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Customized optics
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Customized optics

EURECA Messtechnik GmbH offers the development and production of customized optical systems. Customized optical systems are the method of choice when special requirements have to be met. This may concern optical parameters such as resolution, or mechanical properties. Aspects of cost-effectiveness are important, as well.

EURECA supports the development of customized optical systems for imaging and non-imaging applications. Often, the development of customized optics is part of more complex projects which may include other customized components.

Reasons for the customized development of optical systems

Some of the typical reasons for custom optical design are listed below. In many cases, there are requirements regarding more than one of the mentioned points. The most general reason for custom developments is that there is no off-the-shelf product available which meets all important requirements.

Categories of optical systems

Optical systems for imaging applications may be classified into the following main categories. First estimations of the effort of a customized design can be derived from that. For certain combinations of parameters there may be a large number of standard lenses on the market so that a customized design will not always be necessary. Other combinations (although physically realizable) might not be available at all, so that a customized solution is mandatory.

Project steps from specifications to production

When the development of a customized optical system is considered, the first step usually is the determination of precise and verifiable specifications, e.g. regarding optical performance or mechnical properties. In this step of development, numerical simulations based upon exemplary data provided by the customer can help determine which specifications are required. At this point, EURECA’s strong competences in image simulation are particularly important. Once general specifications are found, the best ways of development and production are discussed. Our detailed knowledge of physics and optical system design makes sure that precise and cost-effective ways of development are chosen.

The experience of EURECA regarding the different manufacturing processes for optical systems also ensures that all steps from first evaluations to final production are interrelated at its best. Chosing reliable partners for prototyping and production is our competence, as well.

Standard components as an option for custom optical designs

Depending on the customer's requirements it may be possible to include available optical components into customized optical designs or even make the entire system using off-the-shelf components. This can be an effective way of saving time and costs. In extreme cases, even a single lens or a doublet may suffice for applications which require very small systems at moderate performance or very low costs.

However, even lenses with extreme properties may be constructed using standard components. The figures below show the layout and the optical performance (MTF vs. Field), respectively, of a lens of a very large relative aperture of f/0.85. This lens works up to sensor formats of 1/2" and is optimized for a magnification of -0.15 at a working distance of 100mm. Such lenses, which can be hardly found on the market, are typically employed under extreme low-light conditions at narrow spectral bandwidths.

Layout and MTF vs. Field of a lens of aperture f/0.85, entirely made of optical standard components (see text)

General aspects

The requirements of the application, economical conditions and other aspects determine the degrees of freedom which are available in a custom optical design. General important parameters which determine the relative costs of a design are required aperture, spectral bandwidth and field of view. The optical performance and the effort of mechanical construction also determine the overall complexity. Depending on the production volume it can be advantageous to employ e.g. injection molded plastic lenses, which allow for all-aspheric surfaces and potential savings regarding weight and the number of lenses. Special requirements regarding the spectral range may lead to more expensive optical materials. For some applications it can be effective to save the effort of acromatization for lower costs and extended flexibility regarding the correction of monochromatic aberrations. The necessary reduction of spectral bandwidth is realized by the illumination or additional filters in such cases.

Page updated at: 01/05/2017