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Technical Papers

Leveraging 3D Printing to Streamline Precision Optical Manufacturing

Optimax uses a variety of 3D printers to streamline our manufacturing processes. Download our technical paper today to learn about our results. 

Absolute freeform surface measurement using interferometry

We will present a case study of a characteristic freeform production optic that required an absolute positioning measurement procedure utilizing a custom dual computer generated hologram (CGH) interferogram set-up

Design and Manufacturing Considerations for Freeform Optical Surfaces

Freeform optical systems are becoming increasingly common due to new design and manufacturing methods. We present an example compact freeform optical system and describe considerations for transfer of the prescription of freeform surfaces for fabrication

The Manufacturing of a Multi-surface Monolithic Telescope with Freeform Surfaces

Monolithic multi-surface telescopes combined with freeform optical surfaces provide improvements in optical performance in a smaller footprint as compared to systems with spherical surfaces, while providing superior mechanical stability to traditional telescope assemblies. Three different monolithic telescope concepts, in different configurations and optical performance were produced as proof of concepts

Scaling-up freeform manufacturing: challenges and solutions

With optical technology and design advances, larger freeform optics are increasingly sought after by consumers for an expanding number of applications. This paper will present some of the challenges and solutions of extending freeform polishing capabilities from approximately 150 mm diameter parts to a component of over 500 mm in diameter

Larger format freeform fabrication and metrology

This paper will address challenges that have been encountered in the manufacturing, testing, and handling of freeforms as their size expands up to and beyond 500 mm, and provide future work that will address each challenge

Robotic polishing in asphere manufacturing

Optimax improved the reliability of asphere polishing platforms at a demonstrated level. Download our technical paper today to learn about our results

Challenges in size scale up of freeform polishing processes

This paper will discuss challenges faced as a result of scaling up our freeform polishing process from parts with approximately 150 mm diameters, to polishing components with diameters over 600 mm

Pushing Freeform Optical Manufacturing: Fabricating Optimax’s Largest Freeform Component

Several challenges associated with part size and shape complexity were solved during the manufacture of the largest extreme freeform shape Optimax has fabricated to date

Measurement of mid-spatial frequency errors on freeform optics using deflectometry

Freeform optics have emerged as a new tool for optical designers and integrators. Manufacturing innovations are gradually increasing availability of precision freeform optics.

Apprenticeships for Precision Optics Manufacturing Technician

As U.S. manufacturing works to overcome a technical skills gap, apprenticeships are gaining favor as a post-secondary educational path

Top Five Common Freeforms

The top five common freeforms have gained popularity with lens designers and optical system interrogators. 

Production of high laser induced damage thresholds

Completing our suite of deposition equipment, we are developing a new Ion Beam Sputtering (IBS) System with different substrate configurations

Temperature Variation of Pitch in a Pitch Pot

Opticians have for years kept polishing pitch in electrified containers called “pitch pots” that keeps it in at an elevated temperature. By insulating the top of a pitch pot, it will impact the temperature, which we will explore in this paper

U.S. National Committee proposed revision to the ISO Laser Damage Standard

The Optics and Electro-Optics Standards Council (OEOSC) Task Force (TF) 7 has proposed a Type 1 laser damage test procedure and deemed it the most valuable in the U.S. laser market. 

The Segmented Aperture Interferometric Nulling Testbed

This work presents an overview of the Segmented Aperture Interferometric Nulling Testbed (SAINT), a project that will pair an actively-controlled macro-scale segmented mirror with the Visible Nulling Coronagraph (VNC). 

Design Guidelines for Predicting Stress in Cemented Doublets

This explores quick predictive methods for calculating potentially risky stresses in cemented doublets underdoing temperature change that agrees well with finite element analysis. It also provides guidelines for avoiding stress concentrations

Integrating Optical, Mechanical and Test Software

Optical systems must perform under environmental conditions including thermal and mechanical loading. To predict the performance in the field, an integrated analysis combining optical and mechanical software is required to understand optical performance. 

Advances in Freeform Optics Fabrication for Conformal Window and Dome Applications

Freeform optical shapes or optical surfaces that are designed with non-symmetric features are gaining popularity. This enabling technology allows for conformal sensor windows and domes that provide enhanced aerodynamic properties

Statistical distributions from Lens Manufacturing Data

Optical designers assume a mathematically derived statistical distribution of the relevant design
parameters. Presented are measured distributions using
lens manufacturing data to better inform the decision-making process.

Techniques for Analyzing Lens Manufacturing Data

Optical designers assume a mathematically derived statistical distribution of the relevant design parameters. However, there may be significant differences between the assumed distributions and the likely outcomes from manufacturing. 

Rapid Optical Manufacturing of Hard Ceramic Windows and Domes

Hard ceramic conformal windows and domes provide challenges to the optical fabricator, due to the material hardness, polycrystalline nature, and non-traditional shape. Creative optical fabrication techniques, including VIBE™, help produce these types of optics cost-effectively

Conformal window manufacturing process development and demonstrations for polycrystalline materials

Conformal windows pose new and unique challenges to manufacturing due to the shape, measurement of, and requested hard polycrystalline materials. Optimax has developed a process for manufacturing conformal windows out of fused silica, glass, zinc-sulfide multispectral, and spinel. 

Cost Effective Fabrication Method for Large Sapphire Sensor Windows

Sapphire poses very difficult challenges to optical manufacturers due to its high hardness and anisotropic properties. These challenges can result in long lead times and high prices. Optimax is developing a high speed, cost effective process to produce such windows. 

Metrology for the Manufacturing of Freeform Optics

Freeform optical surfaces are gaining popularity with lens designers and optical system integrators as a method to solve complex optical system design problems. Fortunately, advances in optical manufacturing have opened the possibility for designers to manufacture these complex surfaces

Freeform Optical manufacturing and testing processes for IR Conformal Window and Domes

Freeform optical shapes that are designed with non-symmetric features allow for conformal sensor windows and domes that provide enhanced aerodynamic properties as well as environmental and ballistic protection

Manufacturing and Metrology for IR Conformal Windows and Domes

Freeform and conformal optics have the potential to dramatically improve optical systems by enabling systems with fewer
optical components, reduced aberrations, and improved aerodynamic performance

Fabricating freeform multispectral-ZnS corrector lenses

For more than 100 years, optical imaging systems were limited to rotationally symmetric lens elements, due to limitations in processing optics. However, the present application of CNC machines has made the fabrication of non-rotationally symmetric lenses, such as freeform surfaces, economical

Thermal instability of BK7 and how it affects the manufacturing of large high precision surfaces

When manufacturing precision optical surfaces of relatively larger sizes it is critical to understand the thermal stability of the substrate material. The material properties associated with thermal homogenization are commonly reviewed and soak schedules are created. 

Reduced cost and Improved Figure of Sapphire Optical Components

Optimax has developed a fabrication process that not only reduces cost but also aids in producing spherical sapphire components to better figure quality. 

Current use and potential of additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has become widely used in recent years for the creation of both prototype and end-use parts. The flexibility is unparalleled and has opened the design space to enable features like undercuts and internal channels. 

Incorporating VIBE into precision optics manufacturing process

The VIBE™ process is a full-aperture, conformal polishing process that has the potential to be introduced in areas of today’s modern optics manufacturing process

Evolving rocket optics applications drive manufacturing advances

Improvements to sensing hardware and image processing for airborne optical systems have inspired designers to propose new optics and windows to be: more precise, conformal/freeform and multi-functional. 

Tolerancing an Optical Freeform Surface

Freeform optical shapes or optical surfaces that are designed with non-symmetric features are gaining popularity with lens
designers and optical system integrators. Tolerances on a freeform optical design influence the optical fabrication process

The need for Fiducials on Freeform Optical Surfaces

Freeform surfaces typically have little to no symmetry, making the alignment of the surfaces difficult. Fiducials are required to achieve higher accuracy measurements of freeform optical surfaces

Importance of Fiducials on Freeform Optics

Freeform optical surfaces, which have little to no symmetry, are gaining popularity with lens designers and optical system integrators. Using fiducials properly leads to higher accuracy measurements and allows more control of the surface throughout the manufacturing process

Early Considerations to Aid Later Manufacturing

With so many types of optical components, there are many considerations early in the manufacturing process that can save resources

Magnetorheological Fluid Template Mechanical Chemical Effects

Optimax developed a new magnetorheological (MR) fluid for studying the relative contributions of mechanics and chemistry in polishing hard materials. 

Transmission spheres more than just a reference surface

The importance of understanding the design and use of Fizeau transmission spheres, for accurate evaluation of surface
irregularities, cannot be understated. There are several characteristics that have a significant impact on the interpretation
of the resulting data. Specific tests can be performed on a routine basis to quantify and maintain calibration of the
precision masters and as a result, errors attributed to the transmission sphere can be isolated. The overall goal is to
obtain accurate evaluations of surface irregularities of the actual surface under test

Make it like you use it

Testing and correcting the aspheric lens as it is used in transmission addresses some of the shortcomings of traditional 3D surface metrology. 

Profit through predictability: The MRF difference at Optimax

In an effort to reduce variation and improve predictability, Optimax integrated magnetorheological finishing into its aspheric lens manufacturing process. 

The Business of Precision Optics Manufacturing

Many changes have occurred in business strategies for precision optics manufacturing. The internalization of the photonics industry and the value derived from Rochester’s regional photonics cluster are important insights. 

Centration Errors: That’s great, but…..

The optical axis of a spherical lens is the axis passing through the two centers of curvature of the optical surfaces. It is such a simple thing to describe. However, detecting where the axis is and positioning it can be as complex as the
definition is simple. Make one or both of the surfaces aspheric and it gets even harder

The sum of all errors: Technical Digest

The geometry of machines used to center lenses and to measure centering error all work in terms of the wedge case. Two important considerations are the centration of the lens and the difference in edge thickness. 

Manufacturing of a large, extreme freeform, conformal window with robotic polishing

Our robotic polishing platforms are able to polish large, difficult-to-make optical surfaces with minimal surface error. 

Antireflection Coatings for Space Applications

Space can be a harsh environment for optical coatings. Optimax has successfully provided antireflection (AR) coatings for a wide range of space applications. The results of testing done to qualify Optimax AR coatings for space ensure vacuum, temperature, and radiation stability

Metrology of Freeform Optics

Proper metrology is required to monitor and verify the freeform fabrication processes to improve capability and precision

Freeform Monolithic Multi-Surface Telescope Manufacturing

The freeform monolithic multi-surface telescope design has all its off-axis optical surfaces manufactured from a single optical blank, resulting in truly monolithic telescope design, providing improvements in stability and payload. 

Designing and Selecting an Optical Cleaning Process

Every optical application requires a “clean” optical surface. However, what defines “clean” is subjective and is based on the needs of the application.  

Optical Systems: Transmissive high-energy laser optics

There are many decisions to make when designing, specifying, manufacturing, and testing optical components for high-energy laser systems — each is a potential failure mechanism that must be understood and controlled

Measurement considerations when specifying optical coatings

Design, specification, and procurement of optical coatings all benefit when the designer has a good understanding of measurement techniques and uncertainties.

Optimax ‐OTR Coatings for Extreme Environmental Resistance

Optimax has developed a novel optical coating (OTR‐AR). OTR coatings have been demonstrated to provide excellent resistance to latent scratching, staining and dimming of chemically sensitive optical glass surfaces in hot humid environments

Trial and Tribulations of Optical Manufacturing: Asphere Edition

Optimax Systems, Inc., a leader in quick delivery prototype optics, has been manufacturing aspheric lenses for more than 20 years. Along the way, we have learned many lessons and provide takeaways for other manufacturers and designers

Deterministic form correction of extreme freeform optical surfaces

Optimax has placed emphasis on refining the deterministic form correction process. By developing many of these procedures in house, changes can be implemented quickly and efficiently in order to rapidly converge on an optimal manufacturing method

Fabrication of Freeforms

Optimax has developed a robust freeform optical fabrication CNC process that includes generation, high speed VIBE polishing, sub-aperture figure correction, surface smoothing and testing of freeform surfaces

Producing Smooth Surfaces on Polycrystalline ZnS Aspheres and Freeforms

The addition of VIBE smoothing as the final optical fabrication process yields highly smooth surfaces on polycrystalline aspheres, improving optical performance. 

Fabricating and Testing Freeform Optics

Freeform optical shapes or optical surfaces that are designed with non-symmetric features are gaining popularity with lens designers and optical system integrators. A common question about freeform optics is, “If I design it, can you really make it?”

Specifying, Manufacturing and Measuring Aspheric Lens – Part I

A basic survey of specifying aspheric forms, function and manufacturing and testing

Freeform optical manufacturing and testing processes for IR conformal window and dome

Complete freeform optical fabrication process that includes ultrasonic generation of hard ceramic surfaces, high speed VIBE polishing, sub-aperture figure correction of polycrystalline materials, finishing and final testing of freeform surfaces

Deterministic Form Correction of Extreme Freeform Optical Surfaces

Optimax has developed a variety of new deterministic freeform manufacturing processes by combining traditional optical fabrication techniques with cutting edge technological innovations

Specifying, Manufacturing and Measuring Aspheric Lenses – Part II

The similarities and differences between tolerancing, manufacturing and measuring spherical and aspheric surfaces are important

Reduced cost and improved figure of sapphire optical components

Optimax’s sapphire production process achieves significant improvement in cost by the implementation of a controlled grinding process to present the best possible surface to the polishing equipment

Assembly Method Considerations for Cemented Assemblies

When cementing lenses together at Optimax, there are main options for assembly methods. Each method has its own benefits and challenges to be considered. 

Specification and Control of Mid-Spatial Frequency Wavefront Errors in Optical Systems

This paper is an introduction to the specification and tolerancing of Mid-spatial frequency (MSF) ripple or waviness

Surface Irregularity

This paper will define surface irregularity for spherical surfaces, offer information on measurement methods for testing surface irregularities, and some specification guidelines

Radius Tolerancing

There are two main paths for tolerancing spherical radii: power tolerance and linear radius tolerance. Both measure change relative to a nominal value, but the metrology used is the key difference. 

The Cost of Tolerancing

The cost of lenses is strongly dependent on the difference between the specified tolerances and the limits of the optics manufacturer, the coater, and the metrologist. 

Cylinder Manufacturing Considerations

Cylinder manufacturing methods can influence specification, offering recommendations on what to consider when designing cylindrical optical components to minimize cost and allow for greater flexibility in manufacturing. 

This Was Not the Land that Kodak Forgot

The Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster sought ways to promote itself and grow jobs in the Rochester region

Shop Solutions: Grinding Optics On CNC Machining Centers

Three, four, and five-axis machining centers are used to grinding, polishing, and shaping the lenses with diamond tooling. Optimax now has five times more equipment and has added a third shift, increasing grinding and polishing productivity. 

Value Proposition and Total Cost of Ownership

Total cost of a part is calculated over its entire lifespan. By investing in higher quality and reliability, total cost decreases as supporting costs become less necessary. 

Optimax and the Birth of Rapid Prototyping

This paper, written by Optimax, tells the story of how Optimax was founded and how we are able to support “Prototype Optics in 1 Week!”

Many gain from one MBA grad’s classroom experience

A master’s degree in business administration offers personal and professional benefits to those whove earned them and their co-workers. – An RBJ interview including Mike Mandina and Rick Plympton

Optimax’s Fun-Loving CEO

This Rochester Business Journal article speaks of Rick Plympton’s philosophy and career objectives to promote optics that benefit mankind – and have fun doing it

Manufacturability study of CLEARCERAM® (T008) compared to other low CTE materials

CLEARCERAM® was developed in an attempt to reduce the thermal expansion and approach a true zero expansion material. This improves grinding and polishing rates by 39%

Better Polishing through Chemistry

Learning the chemical aspects of optical polishing can lead to better optics in less time.

Transmitted Wavefront Error Correction

Tolerancing optical lenses in transmission rather than reflection offers financial, performance and delivery advantages to a given class of aspheric optics. 

Vibe: A New Process for High Speed Polishing of Optical Elements

The concept for polishing optical elements with a process called VIBE is presented, application to non uniformly sloped optics such as aspheric shapes is detailed, and initial results on spherical surfaces are presented

Round Robin Testing of the Optimax Optidome

OptiDomes act as a standard for metrology testing of various testing methods for measuring the surface quality, mechanical attributes and/or the transmitted wave-front error of hemispherical/spherical domes.

Advances in ALON™ Optical Component Fabrication

Aluminum oxynitride (ALON™) spans from the UV to the IR and has excellent ballistic characteristics and is used to improve quality in manufacturing. 

Increased UV transmission by improving the manufacturing process for FS

With increasing demand for deep UV applications, special considerations must be taken to produce the optics. Specifically, as the wavelength of incident light decreases, the importance of smooth surfaces increases. 

Varying electro-kinetic interactions to achieve… on ZnS

A conventional study was conducted with infrared material zinc sulfide with the goal of producing defect-free polished surfaces in a predictable amount of time. 

Practical Design Software Eases Asphere Manufacturability

Recent design methods and software advances make it much easier to design aspheric surfaces that actually work in production and test by considering manufacturability issues at the earliest possible stage in the design process

The Sum of All Errors

Magnetorheological Finishing (MRF) offers an effective way for correcting transmitted wavefront of lenses. Optimax Systems uses this MRF process to correct aspheric lenses in transmission to subwavelength errors

Centration Tolerances

There are parameters used in specifying centration of a lense and techniques used to check the location of and position the optical axis. Whether centering errors are specified in terms of decenter or wedge, it all comes back to the difference in edge thickness. 

Optical System Design – Optical Manufacturing Considerations

The primary design considerations are optical material, component size, shape and manufacturing tolerances. All of these attributes are variable at the design phase and have significant impact on lens manufacturing costs and therefore are outlined in a chart. 

Useful Estimations and Rules of Thumb for Optomechanics

Estimations for optical components are based on a set of reasonable assumptions. They are not meant to replace a complete analysis of the situation or design at hand, but rather to provide quick, easy-to-remember relationships for day-to-day use. 

Lens-Edging Tolerance

Engineers from a variety of disciplines are now designing lens systems. Manufacturers are often asked to produce optics to tolerances that are not always optima, so practical manufacturing limits are important.    

The Language Of Prisms

Prisms are optical components used to reflect or refract light. Their distinct characteristics give rise to its own language, the language of prisms. 

Considerations in Manufacturing Cemented Assemblies

One design strategy for an optical system is centering two or more lenses together to build a lens assembly. However, strain in excess may cause delamination or fracture of the assembly elements, so it is important to consider the management of it. 

Optical Glass: Substitutes Versus Equivalents

Selecting the material from which a lens is made is a fundamental design consideration. In certain situations, a substitute or equivalent material may need to be identified depending on the specifications. 

Specifying And Measuring Spherical Surface Irregularity ©

This paper will define surface irregularity for spherical surfaces, offer information on measurement methods for testing surface irregularities, and some specification guidelines

Tolerancing, Specifying and Measuring Spherical Radius

There are two main paths for tolerancing spherical radii: power tolerance and linear radius tolerance. Both measure change relative to a nominal value, but the metrology used is the key difference. 

Mechanical Attributes: Diameter, Center and Edge Thickness Specification for Lens Manufacture

Mechanical attribute tolerances can be a major cost driver because of time and yield penalties added to fabrication of a lens. Dimensions and their tolerances are interrelated, so designers need to balance function and budget. 

Specifying And Modeling As-Built Centration Errors For Singlets And Cemented Doublets

Centration errors arise from deviation from superposition. In a perfectly centered lens, the mechanical and optical axes are concurrent and coincidental, superimposed on each other.  

Specifying More Than Peak to Valley

Mid-spacial frequency wavefront error, slope, and PVr have a big effect on optical component manufacturing. Specifying them can help reduce error. 

The Effect of Phase Distortion On…Thin Film Coated Optical Surfaces

Phase-shifting interferometry is widely used to determine form errors of an optical surface in optical manufacturing. These distortions can affect the ability to get accurate data on thin film coated optical surfaces. 

Operating A Business

This Rochester Business Alliance article speaks of Mike Mandina’s innovative leadership and ‘in the trenches’ management style

Optimax Case Study by Hitachi

As a result of placing in the top 20 of Inc. Magazine’s and Winning Workplaces 2010 Top Small Company Workplaces Competition, Optimax was contacted by the Hitachi Foundation to participate in a case study

20 Years of Innovation – Rochester Engineering Society Magazine

Founded in 1991, Optimax was one of the first optics manufacturers to use computer-controlled machining for the fabrication of optical components, reducing manufacturing time from 10 weeks to five days

VIBE™ finishing to remove mid-spatial frequency ripple

The VIBE™ process is a full aperture, conformal polishing process incorporating high frequency and random motion designed to rapidly remove sub-surface damage in a VIBE pre-polish step and eliminate mid-spatial frequency (MSF) errors in a VIBE finishing step.

R&D and the Optics Manufacturing Shop Floor

Historically, the R&D department and the optical manufacturing shop floor have been independent entities. Optimax has been able to integrate the two departments for faster deployment and practical utilization. 

VIBE™ Rapid Polishing Process to Smooth Optical Surfaces

The VIBE process is a full-aperture, conformal polishing process that uses high-frequency and random motion to rapidly remove sub-surface damage and eliminate mid-spatial-frequency surface errors.

Asphere Manufacturing Considerations for the Designer

There are many topics to consider during aspheric lens design, including geometrical restrictions that hinder producing particular aspheric shapes. Understanding these restrictions will help drive cost. 

Aspheric glass lens modeling and machining

The evolution of the manufacturing technology for a specific aspheric glass lens can provide significant image quality improvement, reduction of the number of lens elements, smaller size, and lower weight. 

Introduction to Asphere Metrology

There are numerous metrology options for aspheres, including how they work, requirements, and what is specified with each method in an effort to tolerance aspheres

Specifying and Measuring Slope Error of Optical Surface

This paper will first detail where slope error originated from, what it represents and the role it plays in the optical performance

Role of Surface Roughness In Optical Performance

This paper examines the role surface roughness plays in optical system performance, discusses the components of a surface roughness specification, and contrasts roughness with cosmetic defects.