When you’re curing disease the last thing you need is a production headache

These measures eliminated the particulate
problem entirely and greatly reduced the
friction of the threads, allowing faster assembly.

Fluorescence microscopy is one area of optics that will be familiar to the layperson, by sight if not by name. The amazing images it produces grace the covers of countless science publications. As well as producing stunning visuals, fluorescence microscopy represents our best hope of breakthroughs in a wide variety of areas, from curing cancer to unlocking the secrets of DNA. Our client manufactures highly specialized laser light sources that made the whole process possible.

The client: Our client manufactures highly specialized laser light sources that make fluorescence microscopy possible.

The challenge: The light sources used optical mount systems supplied by a well-known stock optics provider. Our client was having difficulty assembling the system; the action of tightening the retaining ring was dislodging tiny flakes from the black-anodized aluminium. In a high power laser system, the presence of small specks of dirt is totally unacceptable.

It was impossible to tell which parts were faulty until the system was assembled. This was causing huge production delays, thereby incurring massive costs.

The solution: We discovered two sources contamination. One was a microscopic burr breaking off during assembly, and the other was a powdery deposit left in the thread after anodizing. We produced a batch of components with a proprietary Comar coating and a redesigned thread termination. We identified a cost-saving opportunity, redesigning two separate parts into one, thus reducing the part count.

These measures totally eliminated the particulate problem and reduced thread friction, greatly speeding up the assembly process.

Diagnosing the perfect solution to an imaging challenge

Having built initial prototypes of the
guide light in house, the transfer to
volume production was seamless.

In the world of medical imaging, minute changes can literally mean the difference between life and death. Precise imaging allows physicians to make accurate diagnoses quickly and with confidence when treating patients with a variety of potentially life-threatening conditions.

The client: The client was in the medical imaging industry, where a minute difference could literally mean the difference between life and death.

The challenge: To track recovery, photos needed to be taken of the same area, in the same position, on a series of successive appointments. To guide the camera, two 12mm diameter, sharply focused spots of light needed to converge on the skin of a patient 1m away.

The clients competition had a similar project, so they were working to a strict time and budget.

The solution: Using a bulk stock mount, we accurately centred the LED by modifying the mount so it engaged with the LEDs integral lenses, rather than with its circuit board. The light from the LED then travels through a precision 350 micron pinhole, which gives the correct spot size and focus. The end result is a modular solution that can be easily adapted to allow different spot sizes and shapes for a range of distances.

Having made the prototypes in house, the transfer to volume production was seamless. Use of mass-produced and stock components kept costs and lead times minimal, and kept the product easily adaptable.

When you promise perfect vision you need a flawless process

We were able to select a grade of sapphire that is mass produced for a consumer product. This brought the cost down to little more than an optical glass window.

Everyone wants perfect vision: thanks to modern science contact lenses have make this possible without glasses. Designed to be invisible, the precision engineering that goes into these little lenses is often overlooked.

The client: Our client was one of the world’s largest contact lense manufacturers, producing 1.7 billion lenses per annum.

The challenge: When you are dealing with people’s vision, defects cannot be tolerated. Our client's quality control procedures involved each lense being inspected under a powerful microscope. If there was any damage to the window on which the lenses were placed, defects may not be spotted. With thousands of lenses passing over it each day, this window needed to be transparent and tough enough to withstand constant use without degradation.

The solution: Sapphire was the obvious choice for the material, meeting both the hardness and transparency specifications. Working closely with our client's research and development team we created a stepped window on which each lense rested during testing.

The window was a wholly custom part, and potentially very expensive. However, with our knowledge of the specific application, and the narrow range of wavelengths used, we were able to select a grade of sapphire that is mass-produced for a consumer product. This brought the cost down to little over that of an optical glass window.

Space exploration made possible through down-to-earth knowhow

We applied lateral thinking and came up with
a solution that produced perfectly pinhole-free
coating on an entirely standard coating plant.

As a supplier to the aerospace industry our client was involved in one of the most exciting fields of engineering. They produced sun sensors for satellite guidance and for the navigation of planetary rovers. They came to us to solve a problem that could stop the project from getting off the ground.

The client: They produced sun sensors for satellite guidance. They came to us to solve a problem that could stop the project from getting off the ground. 

The challenge: A sun sensor is designed to detect the exact angle of the sun relative to the satellite. The design required an opaque coating on the surface of a filter. Light passes through lines etched through the coating, and is then analysed by a CCD chip behind the filter.

Light was entering the filter from other sources and causing false readings.

The solution: We found stray light was entering the module from two sources:

Pinholes in the coating were caused by dust particles on the substrate. Extra cleaning would have been expensive, but we applied lateral thinking and came up with a solution that produced perfectly pinhole-free coating on an entirely standard coating plant.

Stray light from the perimeter was being scattered from the ground edge. Edge blackening was ineffective, so we applied an ring of chrome coating to the sapphire cover plate above the filter.