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Rapid Prototyping and Modelling

UK Optical Plastics now offers solid modelling and rapid prototyping of precision optical and opto-mechanical parts. We offer a range of skills to help get your critical products developments to market in double quick time and to your precise specification.

We manufacture at competive prices, however, if appropriate we can also supply tooling for you to quantity mould yourself. As part of consultation service we can advise you on your specification and concept. In many cases we have produced innovative designs that have been patented by our clients. Currently we offer:

  • Optical verification of complete solid models, in a variety of file formats including IGES, STP (STEP), and STL.
  • Creation of complex and complete solid models in a variety of file formats.
  • Solid models for imaging, LED optics and illumination optics.
  • Verification and analysis of optics components for rapid prototyping.
  • Precision and stable optical mounts and mechanisms including Kinematic Mounts.
  • Thermal and FEA analysis of sensitive optical and photonic systems.
  • Photonics packaging; verification and analysis.
  • CAD skills Arc-View, 3D Studio Max, Pro Engineer, Solid Works, Auto Cad, Architectural Desktop, and Rhino Engineering.
  • 25 years experience of developing complex opto-mechanical,opto-electronic and illumination sytems.

Rapid Prototyping (including Stereolithography *)

  • Rapid manufacture of optics and mounts and other precision components as part of your production verification.
  • Good quality surface finishes are possible.
  • Materials are generally clear resin based and have a useful refractive index of around 1.51.
  • Materials are UV stable and can be post polished to fine a optical finish for the most stringent applications.
  • Other materials by request.

Stereolithography for Rapid Prototyping

Stereolithography or 3-D printing can convert virtual CAD objects into real solids within hours. Typically the CAD object is stored as an STL or similar file format. In the Stereolithographic process a UV laser scans over a UV sensitive liquid polymer (photopolymer) to form layered sections of a 3D object. After the laser activates each layer of polymer, the resin begins to cure; solidifying one section to be manufactured. The focus of the laser is then adjusted vertically to penetrate the ploymer more deeply and produce the next layer and so until the part is completed traced and is in solid, cured form.

As well as stereolithography, other methods of producing rapid prototypes are available, but all produce similar results rapidly. Although stereolithography itself is optical in origin, it is only relatively recently that the process has been used to directly produce optical parts and prototypes of suitable characteristics and quality. In fact, for the most stringent optical surface quality, some post fine polishing and processing may still be needed. Nevertheless the ability to produce a complex optical part and verify it without the need for expensive tooling within weeks rather than months represents a quatum leap in the product development chain:

No longer exclusive to the aerospace and automotive industry, rapid prototyping, is now being used in complex applications including optical products and is opening up new market and product opportunities.

Knowledge of CAD or solid modelling is not, in itself, sufficient to ensure that products made by the rapid prototyping route will is appropriate for moulding or engineered robustly enough to beat off the competion. UK optical plastics has key skills and experience to ensure a well concieved prototype and a subsequent product that is fit for purpose and robustly engineered. These additional skills include knowledge of plastics materials and processes, an opto-mechanical integration experience. The success of maintenance-free products such as photonic components, for example, relies on a thorough analysis in a wide range of disciplines including thermal, FEA, CAD and optics modelling.

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