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About Precision Glass

7/9/2013 4:08:25 PM | by Anonymous

Glass: Precision

Precision glass refers to glasses manufactured with great deal of skill involved. The complexity of its production process is the reason why these glasses usually come expensive. The glass products that fall under precision glasses include lenses for use in optical devices such as telescopes and binoculars, consumer products like eye glasses and digital cameras, laboratory equipment and high-end products including medical systems.


Optical devices require glasses that are precisely formulated and handled with care to make sure that they are manufactured in the right conditions and free of impurities. Since people have different requirements in terms of lenses, the glasses need to be custom made and might be properly done only by hand. This glass does not go through polishing and grinding that are usually applied to products of this type during production. Instead, optical glasses are hand crafted and used with modern devices such as lasers. Some manufacturers apply thin film coating as an added feature to optical lenses. Depending on customer’s specifications, the types of coatings that can come with the lens are anti-reflection coating, bandpass filters, cold mirrors, hot mirrors, front surface mirrors, abrasion resistant coatings and others.


The discovery of optical lenses might have started in the 1600s. The existing techniques in creating glass are refined by glass workers to see if it can be applied in creating lenses. The first lenses produced can only be used in corrective eyeglasses and simple microscopes as their quality was not that good. As the glass processing technique is refined, the quality of optical lenses became better. The production of optical glass is not simple as there are factors needed to take into account. One is that there should be right balance of minerals which can be accomplished by controlling the components of the glass. It also needs to be manufactured in environments with temperatures where it can be regulated very precisely. To create a clear glass with a high refractive index, special tempering may be carried out during the manufacturing process.


Laboratory equipment such as glass tubes are also made from precision glass. Unlike optical lenses, different specific end finishes are applied to glass tubes depending on the application. The variety of end finish options such as diamond saw, polisher and scribe and break to name a few allow manufacturers to produce glass of various shapes and sizes. Similar to optical lenses, laboratory glassware can be customized to match the needs of an application.


One way to produce these types of glasses is through precision glass moulding. Also called as ultra-precision glass pressing, it is a process that does not involve polishing and grinding. The advantage of precision glass moulding over mechanical lens production is that the production cost of aspheres and other complex lens geometries is more inexpensive with the former. Moulding materials include carbide alloys, silicon carbide, aluminium alloys, silicon nitride, glasslike or vitreous carbon and a combination of carbon and silicon carbide. The type of material to be used should be able to withstand the transition temperature of the glass material so it would not deform.

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