Optics and photonics use in the medical field is critically important. Depending on the procedure, countless configurations, etchings, and materials can improve performance. This week, we’re talking about the best imaged glass components and how they are taking medical innovation a step further. 

Why Precision Matters For Imaged Glass Components 

Medical optics have been used in the field since the mid-1800s. Initially, their application was limited to instruments like microscopes, retinoscopes, and improved illumination systems. As innovation—and optical technology—progressed, optics were then applied to diagnostic tools, optical fibers, and solid-state lasers. 

Throughout its history, one of the longest-lasting and most versatile applications has been imaged glass components for medical instruments. These components featured carefully manufactured glass structures with precision etchings to aid medical professionals in everything from diagnostics to treatments. 

With custom encoder discs and scales, medical devices can achieve the highest level of precision and accuracy possible, and this performance can improve patient outcomes

Why Glass? 

The ultra-flat surface and chemical properties of glass lend themselves to etchings without cracking or breaking. Additionally, soda lime or borosilicate glass are cost-effective options that are relatively resistant to changes in temperature. However, because it is a more fragile material than aluminum or Mylar, glass is best for highly controlled applications—such as those with medical instruments. 

Imaged glass components take this precision a step further and make truly custom components that are much more accurate for the specific instrument and procedure. In addition, with glass’s ability to withstand highly precise etchings and code tracks with a higher volume of clear slots, these components can track minute changes in speed and position. 

Encoders and Medical Devices 

As the above section outlines, glass components are optimal for medical devices—the more precise, the better. With our vision recognition technology and laser filament technique, we can fabricate precision grooves, channels, holes, ridges, windows, and other geometric patterns onto glass. 

These can be applied to the following: 

Microfluidics: With their tiny size, microfluidics is often applied to delicate procedures, such as eye surgeries. Their small reflective scales track motion and position with incredible accuracy. With advances in design and technology, these have been applied to image-guided ocular surgery, photo-mediated ultrasound therapy, and adaptive optics.  

In-Vitro Diagnostics: Diagnostic tools require measurement for minute changes in motion and position for their feedback systems. With extreme precision in these imaged glass components, diagnostics can achieve more accurate test results. 

Robot-Assisted Tools: Optical components and assemblies increase the accuracy of robot-assisted tools by making them more precise and controlled. This is especially crucial for delicate applications where a tool requires fluid and accurate movements. 

Point-of-Care Devices: As relatively inexpensive alternatives utilizing nanophotonics, point-of-care devices can deliver more efficient diagnoses with portable biosensors. 

Photo Solutions’ Imaged Glass Components 

As we mentioned above, glass is the gold standard for devices that require unmatched accuracy—such as the case for medical instruments. The foundation of our imaged glass components is precisely manufactured glass discs/scales, transmissive mode discs/scales, and reflective mode discs/scales. 

Glass Encoder Discs

Fabricated encoder discs in diameters of 5mm to 600mm with engineered custom tooling and production for customer-specified designs. 

Glass discs: We manufacture chrome-on glass discs using CAD data for custom etchings. These are available from 5mm to 300mm with thicknesses ranging from .010” to .120.” 

Transmissive mode glass discs: We manufacture these discs on soda lime glass with low reflective chrome. For high-temperature applications, we also offer borosilicate glass. 

Reflective mode glass discs: These components consist of high reflective chrome coating with high reflective/transparent patterns or ultra-low reflective chrome on the back of the disc. For high performance, we can image discs with gold coating. 

Glass Encoder Scales: 

Fabricated encoder scales in lengths of 2mm to 800mm with engineered custom tooling and production for customer-specified designs. 

Glass scales: We manufacture chrome on glass scales using CAD data for custom etchings with options for economic scribe and break or high tolerance sawing. These are available within +/-5um in lengths up to 165mm. 

Transmissive mode glass scales: We manufacture transmissive scales in soda lime or borosilicate glass with low reflective chrome. 

Reflective mode glass scales: These components consist of high reflective chrome coating with high reflective/transparent patterns or ultra-low reflective chrome on the backside. As with our discs, we can image discs with gold coating for high performance.

Use Cases From Our Customers 

Photo Solutions has the honor of working with innovative medical device customers from around the world who apply our custom-made imaged glass components to their instruments and life-saving procedures. 

Frey Medical 

Frey Medical is a Poland-based company that manufactures ophthalmic and optometric diagnostic devices. Their high-performing devices include slit lamps and imaging, projectors, and tonometers, for which they use highly precise imaged components for optimal accuracy. 


Germany-based ZEISS Meditec AG provides innovative visualization solutions for medical procedures. Their devices, such as optical biometers and ophthalmic microscopes, utilize Photo Solutions’ precisely crafted imaged components. ZEISS’ medical technology is a prime example of the intersection of progress and efficiency in healthcare. 


Intuitive Surgical is an international company that pairs “human ingenuity with technology.” Their groundbreaking tools and systems offer less invasive alternatives to traditional surgeries and utilize new technologies—and highly precise components—to do so.  

Auris Health 

When we speak about medical instruments empowering physicians with greater accuracy, we often point to Auris Health as the shining example. The company’s diagnostic tools MONARCH Platform are transforming medical intervention with robotic-assisted procedures—and using precision photonics to do so. Along with their other tools, Auris Health diagnostics are at the next level in medical innovation. 

Imaged Glass Components and Other Precision Optoelectronics  

When it comes to medical device advancements, imaged glass components have played a key role. At Photo Solutions, we’re proud to serve our medical customers with these and other optoelectronics that play a part in new, life-saving technologies and procedures. Our team is always looking for custom projects in the medical field and beyond—let’s see what we can do for you!