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Design for Manufacturability in Polymer Optics


Design for manufacturability (DFM) is a critical first step in the development of any optical component. By involving G&H early in the design process, you can ensure that your component is designed for optimal manufacturability, while minimizing costs and lead times.

What is DFM?

DFM is a process that involves considering the manufacturing process when designing a product. This helps to ensure that the product can be manufactured efficiently and cost-effectively. For optical components, DFM is especially important because of the tight tolerances and complex geometries that are often required.

How does G&H approach DFM?

G&H has a team of experienced engineers who specialize in DFM for optical components. We use sophisticated software packages, such as Solid Works, Solid Works Mold Filling Analysis, Zemax, TF Calc, Diffsys, and MasterCam, to model and optimize your design for manufacturing. We also work closely with you to understand your specific requirements and to develop a solution that meets your needs.

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Benefits of involving G&H early in the design process

Involving G&H early in the design process has a number of benefits, including:

  • Reduced costs: By identifying and addressing manufacturability issues early in the design process, we can help you to reduce the overall cost of your product.
  • Shorter lead times: A well-designed product is easier to manufacture, which can lead to shorter lead times.
  • Improved quality: A product that is designed for manufacturability is more likely to meet the desired quality standards.
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G&H has helped a wide range of customers with DFM for optical components. Here are a few examples:

  1. Medical device design: We helped a medical device manufacturer to design a new lens for an ophthalmic microscope. The lens required tight tolerances and a complex geometry. By working closely with the customer, we were able to develop a design that was manufacturable and cost-effective.
  2. Consumer electronics design: We helped a consumer electronics manufacturer to design a new lens for a smartphone camera. The lens required a high degree of precision and accuracy. By using our DFM expertise, we were able to develop a design that met the customer's requirements and could be manufactured at scale.
  3. Automotive design: We helped an automotive manufacturer to design a new headlight lens. The lens required a specific light distribution pattern and had to be able to withstand harsh environmental conditions. By working closely with the customer, we were able to develop a design that met all of their requirements.
Want to learn more? Read "Injection Molded Polymer Optics in the 21st Century"
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Process Validation Services

Precision polymer optics are often a critical enabling component of an optical system. In addition to design for manufacturing (DFM), it is often important during design and development to understand and characterize how the component would behave in large-scale manufacturing, before sourcing large volumes. One way to reduce risk after transferring from development to production is to conduct a process validation.

Process validation is often practiced in medical device manufacturing and other controlled industries, where the typical sequential activities are referred to as IQ, OQ, and PQ (Installation Qualification, Operational Qualification, and Performance Qualification). It is a method of collecting and evaluating data, using statistical methods, to demonstrate control and capability of a manufacturing process. Evidence of sufficient controls can be established as follows:

  • Installation Qualification (IQ) of manufacturing equipment
  • First Article Inspection (FAI) to verify tooling
  • Operational Qualification (OQ) of process variables
  • Calibration and gage capability studies (Gage R&R) for measurement instruments and techniques
  • Performance Qualification (PQ) of the manufacturing system as a whole

Depending on the nature of the component and process flow, some or all of the above activities may be conducted. Considerations for the validation strategy may include:

  • Are there any supplier control procedures in place which require these activities?
  • Which features on the component are critical?
  • What level of risk is associated with the critical features? In other words, what are the consequences of being outside the design tolerance?
  • How tight are the tolerances relative to the precision of the measurement methods?
  • What are the expected batch sizes?

Some industries require process validation for manufacturing finished products when the output of the process isn’t 100% verified. Suppliers of custom components may or may not utilize validation; they may use other methods of qualifying a process. It is important to understand the supplier’s typical process development activities and decide whether their existing controls are sufficient to ensure delivery of quality components.

Process validations can be costly or may fail if not planned for appropriately. Since the supplier is the subject matter expert on their manufacturing processes, it is important to work closely with them to agree upon, rather than prescribe, any validation requirements. This will maximize the chance of a timely transfer to production.

Polymer Optics Capabilities

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