Many design engineers are challenged to create products that incorporate optics, without much training in this specialty. We exist to help you overcome those challenges! As your custom lens design partner, our job is to make your project successful. To ensure the best possible outcome, we use the following process:
1. Needs Assessment
We start by working with you to determine exactly what you need. If off-the-shelf parts will fulfill your requirements, we will recommend suppliers that stock the parts you need. For prototypes or small quantities, this is often the best route. However, if you need optics that are not readily available, we will help you create a specification. Identifying physical constraints is a critical part of this assessment. One tool we use is the lens specification spreadsheet that you can download here. If your needs don’t fit the template, we are happy to work with sketches, CAD models or verbal descriptions. The result will be a specification that captures all of your requirements.
2. Optical and Optomechanical Design
Once we have agreed on a specification, the design work can begin. For lens design, we use Zemax, SYNOPSYS, CodeV or OSLO, whichever is best suited for your job. SolidWorks and IronCAD are our tools for mechanical CAD. We have been using TracePro for illumination analysis since version 1.0, so we know it well enough to wring the last shred of performance out of it. All of our design work is done in 3D, and we are more than happy to structure the contract so that we can share our design files with you. No design is complete until all of your specifications are met.
3. Refining Your Existing Zemax Design
If you’ve already begun work on a design in Zemax, and need assistance finishing it, we can help. We have extensive experience in refining designs to ensure their efficiency and manufacturability. We’ll steer you towards which glasses are cost effective and easily obtainable, and help you avoid many common manufacturing constraints. A number of engineers have come to us with a design that they have begun work on in Zemax, and we’ve helped them move forward with their product. Or if you like, you can hand the design over to us and we’ll move it toward manufacturing for you.
We’re still looking for a good way to do rapid prototyping of lenses, but we can turn around mechanical parts in a few weeks. Given that lenses take at the very least four weeks to make, we often skip rapid prototyping of the mechanical parts and use machined ones that are still ready before the lenses. Our machine shop uses CAM to go straight from SolidWorks files to parts, so the parts fit every time. Making one to seven prototypes is strongly recommended.
We love manufacturing! We use the same processes and tooling for prototypes that we do for production, at least for quantities of up to ten thousand, so we are ready to start production as soon as we have proven the prototypes. The quality system is set up as part of prototyping, so it is ready to go. We are trained in SPC, lean manufacturing, and six sigma, so we guarantee a stable production process.