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Is there an optician in the house?

CS Boomis

Dec 31, 2023
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Based on some of the previous discussions I took it on myself to start chasing rabbits. In a past life I had a pretty deep well of experience in design and manufacturing in the archery industry. I’m not skeered of sourcing materials and getting them into finished goods.

I had the idea as mentioned in a previous thread of upgrading existing optical products that already had mechanical designs nailed to the wall. I started calling several of the places that rebuild and refurbish rifle scopes in search of a source for matched lenses. Unless they’re all lying to me, none have a source for replacement lenses. They buy salvage and surplus scopes to scavenge parts and pieces from. So the next logical step is to start figuring out how to make lenses from scratch. For a hack back barn engineer this has been enlightening. I’ve located a few CNC machines to grind glass. You can do it by hand but it’s effing tedious.I can’t think of a reason to ever need larger than 80mm. If you can think of something I’ve overlooked throw it out there. Also started making a list of glass blank sources and started deciphering the coating process. Coatings are a universe all their own.

Seems like there’s a domestic market to be capitalized upon. Logic would dictate that there’s a window of reason for upgrading optics. If you go above a certain price point then there’s already a product waiting to fit your needs. Of course as the envelope of capacity increases then perhaps some of the big domestic makers would utilize the source vs offshore. Thoughts? I’m overlooking something, that’s just what I do when I chase busses barking my ass off.
Ok. I’m gonna read along but I’m of zero help. I know nothing about glass or the process of making good glass to look through. I bet it’d be interesting though. Hell I’m far from a watch guy but I like looking at the operating guts of em.
Good glass starts with good blanks. Schott is an industry leader. You could start growing your own fluorite crystal if you’re ambitious. There are all levels of ED glass out there. The Chinese are catching up pretty fast in quality optics. You can get them to make just about anything you give them design specs. for. I might know someone you could talk with if you decide to go down this road.
Having a CNC machine to make the rough lens is the easy part. The polishing machine will be the critical step for sharp optics. Then like you said doing your own coatings probably will be the hardest part of the process. You would likely have to have that done by a lab. I have a hard time seeing how this would be cost effective to do it all yourself. I just don’t see how you could do this at a price point that would’t take you 20 years to break even. A person could probably buy a top end Zeiss or Leica scope that already has the best glass there is for what you need to charge to upgrade a cheaper scope. Then again I’m not a business man. Just a guy that has a small amount of knowledge about optics. Maybe there is a viable market out there for this.
There is zero money in what you’re talking about. It’s not a market that any optics house would even entertain because it costs more to make than anyone would buy. Example: 5 optical assemblies for an OLA we might want for a prototype is gonna cost about $10k apiece. A prism might be $1000 if I sign up to but 10 otherwise they won’t make money.

The reference to scope repair places is correct. There’s no source for lens replacement unless that lens is the same as the one being replaced or can be retrofitted without mods. Most scopes will have different lenses and optical assemblies from model to model. Again, no money in it. That’s why you see different “families” of scopes so there is commonality among parts. That’s not so they can have a long term source of affordable repair parts; that’s to capitalize on the commonalities and maximize profit margins.

So, if you wanna make lenses for old scopes, you’re best to get an SBL and hire an Optical Engineer, buy the equipment and hunt down the appropriate coating companies, and figure out a business plan that will allow you to break even for a few years before you might make any money. Or shut down.
Unless you are exceptionally rich and can waste $$$$$$$$.
It’s interesting, the density, homogeneity and purity of the blank is obviously imperative. The selection and application of coatings is , hell consider this a ballpark estimate, at least 30-40 percent of the quality of the image that you see and almost all of the brightness. Of course the mechanical accuracy of refractive surfaces is where the magic starts. Basically there’s a sweet spot in every optic and the ability to center it in the operational envelope is the trick. Now days everyone wants to raise a bitch when their 1-120x100 isn’t flawless from end to end and edge to edge.

Maybe the most cost effective way to expand the optical range of the device is to invest in electronic imaging. That’s probably the most efficient way to maximize the distance spectrum. Refined glass optics present a greater clarity in a specific envelope but fall off markedly once the polarization effect of the coatings start cancelling light transmission under range correction deflection.

Of course I could be absolutely full of crap.
A number of posts before I made my last are absolutely dead on. Both Kingfish and JEVapas observations are irrefutable. All product lines are exercises in compromise. Arken has been able to focus their energy on the repeatability of the erectors and obtain tracking accuracy beyond what anyone thought possible ten or fifteen years ago. Unless you could work out an agreement with them to obtain components wholesale and build off of that then it’s a moot point. That would relegate their brand to probably the bottom 60% of their current demographic. Of course they’re produced in Jyna, and the brother in law of the guy producing for them will probably cut you a deal two blocks over. Then you’re kind of back where you started except now you own some specialized machinery and the big boys strangle your supply of optical blanks because it’s just too damn expensive to swim that far up the supply chain.

So, the cheapest way to get a better optic is to spend more money. Wow, mind blown. 🤣