There are countless industries for which optical components are necessary. When it comes to metrology, though, precision optoelectronics are critically important for more accurate and automated systems. In this blog, we discuss the most important optical components for metrology, their precision applications, and Photo Solutions’ custom manufacturing capabilities.
Why Optical Components For Metrology Matter
As the science of measurement, metrology is a cornerstone of experimentation and advancements. Regardless of what branch we’re talking about—scientific, industrial, or legal—the data measurement gathered helps to propel industries forward.
Some of the most common applications we see with our clients include:
- Optical distance measurements with lasers
- Angular measurements
- Optical properties measured by spectrometers or spectrographs
- And optical temperature sensors
As a rule, more precise metrology results in more accurate measurements. This, in turn, improves the effectiveness of research, increases productivity, and accelerates innovation. But to achieve that precision, you need optical components.
Calibrating the wide range of instruments in metrological applications requires components manufactured to meet customer specifications. For decades, we’ve supplied the following products to our metrology customers worldwide.
Encoders work by converting motion to electrical feedback to determine position, direction, count, or speed. For example, in a metrological application, wheel encoders achieve direct measurement, which can increase the accuracy of an experiment.
Our team fabricates 5mm to 600mm encoder discs in various materials including glass, quartz, film, and aluminum. We can additionally complete custom orders on special composite configurations to the exact specifications that your application requires. Encoder products include glass encoders, transmissive mode glass encoders, reflective mode glass discs, mylar encoder discs, reflective mylar encoder discs, and reflective aluminum encoder discs.
Like their wheeled counterparts, encoder scales are important optical components for metrology. Specifically, when it comes to nanometrology and nanopositioning, linear scales aid in measuring the absolute position with unmatched accuracy.
We fabricate encoder scales from 2mm to 800mm and specialize in custom tooling and production processes. As with discs, we offer glass, quartz, film, and aluminum scales in special composite configurations upon request. In addition, depending on your metrological application, we engineer glass scales, transmissive mode glass scales, reflective mode glass scales, Mylar encoder scales, reflective Mylar encoder scales, and reflective aluminum encoder scales.
Hub and Disc Assemblies
If your metrological application involves calculating measurements for automotive braking systems, you’re likely familiar with hub and disc assemblies. Our process involves a Swiss screw machined hub bore toleranced at +.0005”/-.000 with the disc pattern concentricity to <.001.” Depending on the exact application, we work with clients’ specifications to achieve precision down to the smallest detail.
If necessary, we can bond to other assemblies with protective, removable liners for easy installation of your product.
As discussed in last month’s blog, reticles are responsible for properly measuring distances, heights, and depths. For metrology, this has wide-reaching applications, the most common of which are microscopes in industrial metrology. Our team often works with clients looking for reticles in various patterns for measuring samples through a microscope eyepiece. For these cases, we machine the glass to the diameter needed to fit precisely into the eyepiece tube.
Generally, we print the pattern on glass with either high or low-reflective chrome. We then cut the plates to shape by diamond CNC machining or high-speed dicing saws to diameters from 5mm to 300mm and rectangles from 2mm to 250mm. Depending on the material, we can even pattern larger rectangular reticles with pattern accuracy to the edge of the glass within 5 microns.
Our last associated products for metrology clients are calibration targets. These components allow for optical accuracy across a variety of applications. Especially in industrial metrology applications, precision calibration can handle distortion and estimate what is possible for your system. Depending on your exact needs, we can manufacture highly precise grid patterns onto the surface.
To do so, our team uses photolithography for precision edge features that allow for accurate calibration down to 2um resolution on glass, quartz, and borosilicate.
Precision Applications Of Optical Components For Metrology
While understanding how each individual optical component for metrology can be used is important, the final applications are the most crucial for advancements across industries. These precision applications broaden our understanding of metrology and what is possible with optical components.
Nanometrology grew from the interest in “applying nanomaterials to societal needs” and is quickly becoming recognized as a key feature in nanotechnology. This subset of metrology can be applied across industries but refers to understanding matter and processes below 100 nanometers “in one or more dimensions.” In recent applications, the technique has even been used for measurements up to 100 nm. While still a growing subset, nanometrology has implications in biological research and is used to examine the interaction between biomolecules.
Calibration for metrological applications is critically important. Speckle metrology is a great case study, as the active stereo pairs involved depend on the calibration system in place. With stereovision in metrology, researchers can “reconstruct the accurate 3D coordinates of a point P in space using right and left images Pl and Pr of P when observed by cameras situated at different locations.” The implication of this type of modeling and measuring can impact the accuracy of 3D reconstruction.
Metrology in Medicine
When it comes to medical applications of metrology, the resulting accuracy can be the difference in a life-or-death situation. In the case of tools that measure physiological, physical, and biochemical patient variables, optical components for metrology in medicine need to be unwaveringly precise.
The Future of Metrology
We’d be remiss if we skipped over the advancements happening in the field of metrology, many of which will impact the types of optical components needed. As manufacturing and technological advancements become more complex, metrology will need to increasingly move toward digitization. The result could be the integration of ‘smart’ tools, more continuous measurement, digital calibration, and more dynamic measurement for complex systems.
The Difference With Custom Manufacturing
Our mission at Photo Solutions is simple: crafting precision engineering. We manufacture every component with precise calculations, measurements, and attention to detail because we know these small components are critical to the success of your application. That’s why, at our core, we’re a custom shop working with your exact specifications to solve your photonic engineering problems.
By trusting us with your optical component needs, you’re guaranteed uncompromisingly reliable and innovative products. Through in-depth conversations every step of the way, we can ensure that we meet your expectations, timeline, and budget.
Photo Solutions’ Custom Optical Components For Metrology
When it comes to precision optoelectronics, we’ve got over three decades of hands-on experience. From optical components for metrology to microfluidic components in medical devices, our team can help.