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Optical Components That Are Used Within the Manufacturing Sector

27th May 2020

Optical components and manufacturing have long gone hand-in-hand, and in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic and with the Government’s attempt to push the sector in a bid to save the UK economy from a potential downfall, optics are set to further its protagonist status within the industry.  


For Knight Optical – the leading supplier of on-spec, metrology-tested, premium-quality optical components – we’re a regular partner to many industry-leading businesses within the manufacturing realm. And thanks to our wide-ranging portfolio, our Custom-Made Optics feature in many of the world’s most significant production lines within machinery, robots, laser-based devices and the like.


Our offering derives from our 29 years’ experience within the industry. Throughout this time, working with world-renowned names within the manufacturing sector, we have recognised the dire need for bespoke solutions when it comes to optical components. That’s why at Knight Optical, we understand there is no one-size-fits-all approach to specifications for industrial processing and manufacturing applications. Consequently, we offer our entire portfolio of optics as Custom-Made Components.


In this article, we have taken five of our most commonly specified custom-made optical components from the manufacturing and industrial processing sectors and explored their use.


  1. Planoconvex Lenses

Typically used for focusing or collecting light, our custom-made Planoconvex Lenses are ideally suited to CO2 laser-cutting devices. These non-contact, gas-powered laser devices are peaking in popularity within manufacturing lines for tasks such as engraving and cutting objects and materials with high precision. Just a couple of the divisions that take advantage of these types of laser-based instruments include the automobile and textile industries.

Zinc Selenide (ZnSe) substrates, in particular, are amongst the small handful of materials suitable for COlaser cutters – which are extremely popular amongst our customers. Having recognised their extreme popularity amongst our manufacturing customer base, ZnSe Planoconvex Lenses are not only available as Custom-Made Components, but we also offer a range of Stock Optics ready for next-day dispatch for engineers seeking quick lead times.

2.    Polarising Beamsplitters 

Heavily relied upon within the manufacturing realm, machine vision systems provide automated inspection and sorting on the production line. It is here that Polarising Beamsplitters really come into their own. Machine vision systems typically comprise charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras, where these Beamsplitters are usually integrated. This creates a polarisation camera-based inspection system that is competent in identifying the polarisation of reflected light from objects. Polarisation imaging within the machine vision market is of particular interest thanks to its ability to reduce glare1; resulting in higher clarity inspection within sectors such as the food and drink industries.

Designed to split incident light into its polarised components rather than by simple transmission and reflection, our Polarising Beamsplitters are available in a wide range of options to suit individual applications’ needs. With three varieties in our portfolio – including Standard Polarising, Broadband Polarising and High-Power Polarising types – these custom-made-only Beamsplitters are typically finished with an Antireflective (AR) coating (over the operating wavelength) to reduce losses due to reflection.

3.    Colour Glass Filters

Another optical component that is largely relied upon for machine vision systems is the Colour Glass Filter – particularly for devices that focus on colour recognition, such as food sorting applications. For this purpose, Colour Glass Filters are often paired with a monochrome camera to create a more distinct identification between colours2.

Available in LongpassShortpass and Bandpass varieties, our Colour Glass Filters are available as Custom-Made Optics or from our vast range of stock – available online for next-day dispatch. What’s more, for projects requiring mounting solutions, we also offer our Colour Glass Filters as a mounted option.

4.    Sapphire Windows

Industrial robots have become commonplace within manufacturing environments such as the automobile and electrical and electronics industries. The sensors within these highly technical devices are of vital importance, and their preservation is essential for efficient performance. Often, these industrial robots endure high-pressure and high-temperature environments; therefore, the specification of a solid substrate such as Sapphire is of great value.

Our custom-made Sapphire Windows have proven themselves extremely reliable for the protection of these essential internal components. Thanks to their scratch, chemical and thermal resistance and high mechanical strength, Sapphire’s strength and durability are much appreciated for these applications.

5.    Front Surface Mirrors 

Also known as ‘First Surface Mirrors’ or ‘Plane Mirrors’, our Front Surface Mirrors are used in beam steering or reflecting applications. As such, they’re regularly found within 3D printing applications for projecting clear and sharp images.

Here at Knight Optical, our Front Surface Mirror portfolio comprises four grades – Precision λ/10Precision λ/41λ over 25mm and General-Purpose types. We also have a range of up to six coatings to meet applications in the ultraviolet (UV), visible, near-infrared (NIR) and far-infrared (FIR) spectrums. As well as our custom-made component offering, we also stock a wide-ranging variety of Front Surface Mirrors on our website, which are available for next-day dispatch.

Why choose Knight Optical’s Custom-Made Components?

Over the years, we have assisted with the specification for many optical components throughout the manufacturing industry. From the automobile sector to the food and drink fields, our Custom-Made Optics are renowned across a spectrum of manufacturing divisions for their second-to-none quality.

What’s more, our customers can rest assured that their components will arrive on-spec and thoroughly tested thanks to our in-house, state-of-the-art Metrology Laboratory and dedicated QA department. It is thanks to our dedicated team and unparalleled optical knowledge that we can offer first-class advice for prototyping as well as mass production.

It’s not just our Metrology Technicians and meticulous QA staff to who owe our success; however. Knight Optical’s Technical Sales Advisers have worked with world-leading manufacturers on some of the industry’s most game-changing production innovations.

Custom-Made Optical Components in High Demand

Our Custom-Made optical components are of high popularity amongst manufacturers. By choosing our custom-made components, not only will you be able to select the substrate, coating, thickness, optical coating, tolerance and dimension best suited to your device; but you’ll also benefit from second-to-none optical knowledge from a member of our experienced team. Furthermore, for projects requiring quick lead times, we also hold a wide range of stock – in a variety of dimensions and materials – available on our website for next-day dispatch.

If you’re looking for premium-quality, bespoke optical components for your manufacturing application, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the Technical Sales Team.