This chapter explains the current best methods for packaging optics
for shipment. The final step in manufacturing any optic or optical
system is shipping the product to the customer so that it arrives in
A shipper has no interest in the project other than delivering the
package to the customer. The transfers during shipping can involve
several people who may toss, bounce, drop, mishandle, or misplace
the package. The goal of packaging is to prevent any damage by the
The first step is to ask the customer what shipping method they
want. Is the package moving across town or across nations? Do they
want it shipped by truck, airplane, or ship? (In most cases, it will be
shipped by truck or airplane, or a combination of both.) During the
simplest method of shipment, a package may be handled by 3–5 people and transferred using several trucks.
Most next-day or 2–3-day shipments are picked up in small trucks and sent to a transfer station where the package is sorted. The package is then loaded on a larger truck and sent to another transfer station at an airport where it is sorted again. It is then placed on a plane and flown to a very large, single-point transfer facility where it is combined with thousands of packages and sorted once more. Then the whole process is reversed as the package is delivered to the customer. At any point during this process, the package can be subjected to conditions that could damage the optic, such as extreme high and low temperatures during transfer at the airport or while waiting in the airplane or truck. It can be exposed to rain, wind, snow, and ice. During handling it will be dropped and/or crushed under other packages.
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