22 August 2005 Injection molded polymer optics in the 21st Century
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Abstract
Precision polymer optics, manufactured by injection molding techniques, has been a key enabling technology for several decades now. The technology, which can be thought of as a subset of the wider field of precision optics manufacturing, was pioneered in the United States by companies such as Eastman Kodak, US Precision Lens, and Polaroid. In addition to suppliers in the U.S. there are several companies worldwide that design and manufacture precision polymer optics, for example Philips High Tech Plastics in Europe and Fujinon in Japan. Designers who are considering using polymer optics need a fundamental understanding of exactly how the optics are created. This paper will survey the technology and processes that are employed in the successful implementation of a polymer optic solution from a manufacturer's perspective. Special emphasis will be paid to the unique relationship between the molds and the optics that they produce. We will discuss the key elements of production: molding resins, molds and molding equipment, and metrology. Finally we will offer a case study to illustrate just how the optics designer carries a design concept through to production. The underlying theme throughout the discussion of polymer optics is the need for the design team to work closely with an experienced polymer optics manufacturer with a solid track record of success in molded optics. As will be seen shortly, the complex interaction between thermoplastics, molds, and molding machines dictates the need for working closely with a supplier who has the critical knowledge needed to manage all aspects of the program.
© (2005) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
William S. Beich, "Injection molded polymer optics in the 21st Century", Proc. SPIE 5865, Tribute to Warren Smith: A Legacy in Lens Design and Optical Engineering, 58650J (22 August 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.626616; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.626616
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