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Join Andrew Fisher, Manufacturing R&D Engineer at Edmund Optics, as he introduces Edmund Optics's modified stock capabilities as a less expensive, shorter lead time alternative to custom components. To learn more, visit our Modified Stock page.
Hi. My name is Andrew Fisher. I’m a Manufacturing R&D Engineer here at Edmund Optics. Today I’m going to talk to you a little bit about how we can modify standard off-the-shelf optics in order to make a custom optic much faster than by the standard method. So, before we begin, I just want to make sure everyone’s on the same page and understands the basic steps to making a custom optic. So normally if we were starting from scratch, we would start with what’s called a puck of glass. A puck of glass is just basically a cylinder of glass, roughly oversize from what you’d want your final piece to be. So, once you have that puck of glass, we’ll start by grinding. Now grinding is actually several steps within itself. I like to usually equate it to using sandpaper. You’d start out with a really rough grit to do most of your removal, and then you’d progressively get to finer and finer grits to give yourself a really smooth finish. Once we have that smooth finish, we’ll then polish the surface. Polishing gives it that nice, shiny surface that everyone knows and loves that an optic has. Now once we polish, the last step is the edging or centering process. Now the centering or edging, that brings the optic to its final diameter. Normally when we’re manufacturing we’ll actually oversize the optic a bit during the previous steps. It helps out in a few ways, and this final step brings that oversize optic down to the actual dimension. Now the other step that’s not mentioned here is the coating step. This is an optional step, but coating can really make or break an optic in some cases. For instance, an anti-reflective coating is usually applied to help with throughput in the system. And the last thing I’ll mention is the “times two” you may notice on this slide. The “times two” is there to signify that optics are generally double sided. So, if you have a two-sided optic, all the steps I just mentioned actually have to be carried out twice. Here at Edmund Optics we really wanted to try and figure out how we could reduce that six to eight weeks, and we’ve figured out a way to make it more like two to three weeks by modifying these off-the-shelf optics. When we modify off-the-shelf optics, it’s really powerful and best used for small lot sizes. So maybe prototypes, ten, twenty pieces, something like that. It’s also important to mention that modifications can be done to virtually any optic we have on our shelf. Pretty much if it’s made of glass, we can try and modify it.