In physics, optics is the study of light, a broad field of research and engineering that includes aspects like rays, waves, and photons. Although the term “optics” is often associated with sight, optical engineers focus more on the behavior, properties, and creation of light. Here we’ll go into more detail about what optical engineers do and what they make, which includes custom lenses for optical assemblies.

What Do Optical Engineers Do?

Optical engineers research and develop new technologies related to light, with applications in industries like medicine and manufacturing. An optical engineer can work in medical research, physics labs, or other research labs. The work requires highly skilled knowledge of how light works and regular use of high-tech lasers, mirrors, lenses, LEDs, microscopes, displays, photo-detectors, computers, and specialized software.

Professional optical engineers tend to be very involved in the development of new biomedical or industrial technologies. They develop, design, prototype, and test new optical devices, all of which require a high level of understanding of how end-users will use certain products.

Like other scientific fields, optical engineering constantly evolves as applications expand to other industries. Optical engineers must stay up-to-date on these changes by reading relevant scientific journals, attending seminars, and otherwise educating themselves on the latest developments.

What Do Optical Engineers Make?

Optical engineers must be experts in all areas within optics to develop new lasers, microscopes, endoscopes, 3D printers, and other types of products. Engineers rely on computers for design, research, simulation, and evaluation of new technologies. The following are the most common components designed or used in optical systems :

  • Lasers: “Laser” is an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” Lasers can be found in a variety of applications, such as laser cutting, laser eye surgery, laser printers, laser scanners, and laser imaging systems.
  • Lenses: Optical engineers also create lenses for both cameras and correcting vision. Lenses transmit and refract light beam to produce a certain image.
  • Mirrors: Mirrors play an important role in many optical systems, such as laser scanners, microscopes, and 3D printers, so optical engineers are frequently involved in engineering these types of devices..
  • Cameras: Cameras capture light and convert them to a digital signal, therefore, precise optical designs are required. Optical engineers utilize cameras for research and design lenses to form images for biomedical and industrial use.

How to Create a Custom Lens

At Gray Optics, we specialize in making custom lenses for medical, life science, and industrial manufacturing applications. We take a collaborative approach with clients, ensuring that they receive a lens design that works for them. We utilize the following process to achieve this.

  1. Create a specification or requirement list: Provide us with the basic specifications that your lens needs. We will start designing around your specs and requirements.
  2. Develop initial design concept: Designs go through multiple reviews and improvements to make sure the lens will fulfill its intended purpose.
  3. Create a final design: After the final round of implemented reviews, the design is no longer conceptual and is in its final phase.
  4. Develop coating requirements: Coatings and filters are additional customizable aspects that can be applied to the final lens design. This can range from infrared (IR) filters, bandpass filters, and anti-reflective (AR) coatings. Coatings allow you to have a lens designed for specific wavelengths, for minimizing stray light, or for other forms of optimization.
  5. Develop manufacturing tolerances and drawings: Lastly, we explore considerations for production. This can include environmental testing, reliability quality checks, and more.

Advanced Optical Engineering With Gray Optics

At Gray Optics, our optical engineers consider many variables when designing custom lenses. Everyone on our team has a deep understanding of how complex the optical system design process can be. Whether you need a complex optical assembly or a mass-produced standard optical product, we can help you achieve your project objectives. To learn more about how we can serve you, contact us today.