Optical flats are optical elements with two parallel planar surfaces, while wedges are optical elements that have two planar surfaces with one face angled in comparison to the other. Below are illustrations of the optics described above.
As with all other custom optics, the start of the manufacturing process for optical windows and wedges is the generation of a quote by a Manufacturing Engineer for a particular window or wedge. After this, near-net shape, optical glass blanks are ordered and sent to the production line. Planar parts will be processed in one of two ways: single-sided with multiple parts blocked on flat tools or double-sided using specialized machines that process both sides at once. In both cases an oversized blank will be generated, fine ground, then polished. Coming off the pitch lap, the finished surface will be protected and the second surface will be processed. Parts off the double-sided polisher will continue through the plant for further processing. Optical Wedges will follow the conventional path and will have the angle induced during the generating process. Precision tooling supplied by our in-house tool room makes this possible. Finally, the custom optical window or wedge will either be sent to the customer or retained in the facilities for further treatment with processes such as custom coatings and truncations.
LaCroix Manufacturing Engineers will work with our Production Technicians to optimize the manufacturing process to utilize a combination of CNC and conventional manufacturing methods. Special proprietary alignment devices are used to ensure the optical axis of the different elements can be maintained within seconds.