Active alignment for lens manufacturing is the precise alignment of the optical axis of a lens with respect to an optical or mechanical reference axis (e.g. housing) including subsequent fixation by glue. In this contribution we will describe different approaches for active alignment and outline strengths and limitations of the different methods. Using the SmartAlign principle, highest quality cemented lenses can be manufactured without the need for high precision prealignment, while the reduction to a single alignment step greatly reduces the cycle time. The same strategies can also be applied to bonding processes. Lenses and lens groups can be aligned to both mechanical and optical axes to maximize the optical performance of a given assembly. In hybrid assemblies using both mechanical tolerances and active alignment, SmartAlign can be used to align critical lens elements anywhere inside the system for optimized total performance. Since all geometrical parameters are re-measured before each alignment, this process is especially suited for complex and time-consuming production processes where the stability of the reference axis would otherwise be critical. For highest performance, lenses can be actively aligned using up to five degrees of freedom. In this way, SmartAlign enables the production of ultra-precise mounted lenses with an alignment precision below 1 μm.
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