Saving the Optics Supply Chain: Win the Game by Losing Tolerances



It’s winning the game that matters, not the individual players. A manager can spend a fortune to get all the very best players, but if they don’t work well together, the team won’t consistently win. Similarly, in optics, it is the system performance that matters, not every single component. Here are two instances when choosing the right kind of “imperfect” optics provides winning performance and a safer supply chain.

  1. Make your mechanics play defense. Clever mechanical design can take some of the pressure off your optics. A good example is designing in mechanically adjustable focal points. That focal flexibility enables you to reduce the tolerance on your lenses, but more importantly, leeway in the focal length actually improves the overall system performance.
  2. Encourage your optical components to collaborate. System performance matters more than the performance of each element. It is often the case that the transmitted wavefront is more important than the per-surface flatness. In such instances, by placing your performance tolerance on the entire optical system rather than on the individual elements, you give your supplier the ability to combine lower-tolerance optics to get the overall performance you need.

These are just two examples of how relaxing tolerances can broaden your supply choices without sacrificing performance. Wisely spending your money on the “team” instead of the “players” is the best way to ensure consistent performance.

For more tips on getting your specs right, download our Tolerancing Guide.

Download Guide 

As your supply chain partner, Ross can make recommendations to optimize your optical system design and reduce supply chain risk. Our expert engineers will answer such questions as, “Do I really need an asphere?” and “Will these optics work for my assembly?Contact us with questions or to discuss your project today.