Lens manufacturing is dependent on the supply of optical-grade glasses, and with supply chain issues, glass selection can often make or break project timelines and cost. Experienced lens designers know the importance of glass selection and often need to consider glass availability early in the design process. Restricting the design space to specific glass manufacturers may potentially (a) inflate material costs by missing lower cost vendors, (b) increase build lead times due to availability of specific glasses, or (c) introduce avoidable stress onto your organization’s supply chain team!
As an example, two visible spectrum microscope objectives were designed with a numerical aperture of 0.5 and a focal length of 5 millimeters (Figure 1). Both designs are diffraction-limited across the entire field of view and have nearly identical form factors. The difference between them is in the glass selection. Design A has 6 elements without direct equivalents across glass vendors. Design B utilizes similar glass types available from at least 4 different vendors for all 8 elements. Design B maintains diffraction-limited performance and is less susceptible to glass supply issues when they arise.
During the optical design process, in adherence to design for excellence (DFX) methodology, it is critical to consider optical glass equivalents for your final solution. The engineering team at Optikos designs and manufactures custom optical systems with a deep knowledge of the risks and tradeoffs when specifying different optical materials, including glass equivalency. If you need optical design support on your next project, contact Optikos today.
Written by Anthony Visconti, Ph.D., Optikos Corporation