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Knight Optical and the Dawn of the Domes

19th Apr 2020

Optical Domes are ubiquitous. You’re certainly never too far from a technical device that makes use of the curved, sturdy component, and as a trusted protective solution, it’s easy to see why they are specified across a range of industries. From land and sea to sky and space, here, we’ve explored the omnipresence of Optical Domes across the world. 


How are Optical Domes Used?

Let’s start with the basics. Due to their hemispherical formation, Optical Domes are ordinarily employed to protect a device’s internal elements – as a shield, if you like. In truth, they’re almost universal in their diversity of use. They are specified for high-specification applications by engineers and R&D professionals within the entertainment industries for camerawork, the automobile sector for LiDAR-driven systems, the defence and aerospace fields for drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); the list goes on.

Of course, different industries seek project- and sector-specific Optical Domes; whether it be bespoke in functionality with particular substrates, optical coatings and wavelength transmission or made-to-order dimensions and thicknesses for seamless integration with end devices.

Here at Knight Optical, our Custom-Made Optical Dome Manufacturing Service is utilised by a range of leading brands across a distinct array of trades. As well as bespoke shapes and sizes, our customised Domes can be manufactured in a wide variety of materials – including UV Fused Silica, Sapphire, BK7 (or equivalent) and PMMA Acrylic – and finished with optical coatings of your choice.

These custom-made optical components are highly sought after by a large number of manufacturers; but why? Well, below we’ve taken a look at just a small handful of the sectors that rely on the strength and resilience of Optical Domes to protect their equipment.

Why Are Optical Domes Used…?

…Under the Sea?

Here at Knight Optical, we are regularly approached by engineers with custom Optical Dome requirements for underwater applications. As such, our lightweight Glass and

operated underwater vehicles (ROVs), our premium-quality Optical Domes are the perfect solution. This is thanks to the two optical surfaces being an equal thickness apart, which creates a naturally strong shape that gets tougher under pressure. This formation makes them ideal for underwater environments and in applications such as camera dome ports and submersible windows.

…In the Air?

For aerospace applications, Optical Domes must be of the highest quality to cope with the pressures endured while in flight. Furthermore, optical specifications for aerospace applications within the defence sector may require more robust requirements. As such, our full range of substrates is also accompanied by a vast portfolio of optical coating options – such as Oleophobic and Hydrophobic, Anti-Reflective (AR), Anti-Fog; plus many more – to meet the individual needs of each airborne vehicle or mechanism. To view our full range of optical coatings, please click here.

For engineers and R&D professionals specifying Optical Domes for defence applications, you can rest assured that your optics will arrive in the highest standard. As a trusted company, Knight Optical is familiar with various drawing standards, including ISO 10110, BS 4301 and MIL-SPEC. What’s more, we hold MIL-SPEC Scratch/Dig masters for engineer’s peace of mind.

…For CCTV Systems?

Our Optical Domes provide optimum protective housing for a wide range of CCTV systems. As well as defending internal components against the elements within outdoor spaces – and preventing hindrances such as dust and debris accessing a device (which can potentially limit visibility for CCTV systems) – our custom-made Optical Domes are manufactured in a variety of materials to allow the operation of wavelength-specific devices. So, whether a CCTV system operates within the ultraviolet (UV), visible or infrared (IR) spectrum, we

have a wide-ranging portfolio of substrates to meet any system’s requirements. Alternative custom Optical Dome materials for CCTV systems include Quartz, Germanium and Silicon; to name but a few.

…In the Renewable Technologies Sector?

For the solar renewables sector, Optical Domes play another leading role in protection. They are ordinarily attached to the top of pyranometers – a device used to measure solar irradiance on a planar surface. Due to the positioning of these systems (typically in harsh outdoor environments), the specification of these components requires durable strength and protection against moisture and the elements. Of course, every pyranometer application varies, and Optical Dome materials for these devices range from N-BK7 (or equivalent) and Fused Silica to PMMA Acrylic and Sapphire substrates.

Why choose Knight Optical’s Domes?

Over the years, we have assisted with the specification for many Optical Domes across a range of industries. From ROV and UAV manufacturers to security experts and aerospace and defence engineers, our Custom-Made Optical Domes are renowned across a spectrum of industries for their second-to-none quality.

What’s more, our customers can rest assured that their Optical Domes with 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 of Optical Domes.

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 innovations. And, thanks to our 29 years’ experience within the sector, we have augmented a renowned status in recent years with our ever-evolving custom capabilities and support of a range of industries.

Custom-Made Optical Domes in High Demand

Our Custom-Made Optical Domes are of high popularity amongst manufacturers. By choosing our custom-made components not only will you be able to select the substrate, coating, thickness, 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.

With the ubiquity of these components prevalent across an array of industries, we’re proud to be a leading supplier of metrology-tested, on-spec, premium-quality custom-made Optical Domes for high-specification and everyday devices.

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