Optical measuring systems and 3D measuring systems are expected to consistently deliver extreme accuracy and precision. To do so, the internal parts and components in these devices must be reliably manufactured to extremely tight tolerances. Parts that aren’t made to the exact required specifications can result in tolerance stacking and lead to significant reading errors and improper function of the optical equipment.
When this kind of complexity is involved, you need a shop that has optical machining experience to make sure the job is done right.
At Peerless Precision, we have more than 40 years of experience in custom optical machining. Our technical experts can manufacture optical measuring equipment parts of any shape or complexity. We’re one of a handful of precision machine shops in the U.S. that is capable of creating the internal parts and components required for 3D measuring systems and larger-than-life microscopes.
Peerless Precision Knows Optical Machining
We work with tough materials. At Peerless Precision, we’re not afraid to work with tough materials—titanium, tungsten, and even invar—that are used in optical machining.
Many shops try to avoid using these materials, which can be difficult to work with and hard on tools and machines (earning their reputation as “chewy”). We’ve got both the tools and the expertise to offer these capabilities. We also rely on tooling suppliers’ advice on how to best machine unusual materials, maintain the long life of our tools, and run our machines with maximum efficiency. That’s how we keep our costs (and our quotes) down and our lead times as short as possible.
We’re experts in thin wall machining. Some of the components in optical equipment are as thin as tin foil. We’ve got the capabilities to create thin walls, even from challenging materials like titanium, that are just .003” thick.
We achieve extremely tight tolerances. Technically, a part is considered to have a tight tolerance if its permitted variance is +/- .002-.001 inches. Due to its precise measurement systems, optical machining requires much tighter tolerances than standard machined parts. . At Peerless Precision, we’re able to achieve extremely tight tolerances ranging from .0001”-000005”.
We know cosmetic appearance is crucial. We have an extremely high level of quality for the aesthetics of our customer-facing parts. We make sure there are no nicks, dings, scratches, fingerprints, or discolorations. During inspection, we hold the parts under a light that is as bright as the sun to ensure they are pretty, shiny, and perfect. If you line 10 components up on a shelf, all 10 will look identical.
Case Study: Coldfinger Weldments
Coldfinger (coldwell) weldments are a critical mechanical component for optical machining. We currently manufacture coldfinger weldments that are used in submicro cryogenic cooling systems for infrared, night vision, and thermal imaging equipment.
The weldments we make consist of two separate components, base and end cap, which are individually matched prior to welding. In order to match, there can’t be a gap between the two components: they must be able to come together with a light press fit so the end cap won’t fall off of the base if it’s inverted. Using a light press fit also keeps the components from fitting too tightly, which could cause a distortion of the internal diameter after the welding process.
Not only have we been making coldfinger weldments for more than 20 years, we even purchased a laser welder specifically to weld these components and further expand our capabilities for optical equipment.
When it comes to optical machining, there’s no substitute for quality and experience. Request a quote from us for your next commercial optics project.
Tier 1 suppliers know the advantages of reducing their supply chains: a more streamlined process, time and cost savings, and less stress.
But not every machine shop in MA has the ability to successfully manage a supply chain, particularly for aerospace manufacturing, medical manufacturing, and defense manufacturing, which carry the highest quality standards. Some shops simply don’t want to be the middleman. Others don’t want the responsibility of managing the work of other vendors.
Peerless Precision is uniquely poised to be an excellent supply chain manager for Tier 1 suppliers. Our experience, organization, and fanatical commitment to quality set us apart from other shops.
What’s involved in supply chain management?
A finished part may look simple enough, but most machined parts go through multiple steps (and many more operations) before they’re complete.
A typical part might go through the following processes, all of which could be managed by the customer—or outsourced to a supply chain manager:
- Material sourcing and purchasing
- Heat treating
- Machining (i.e., CNC milling and CNC turning)
- Laser engraving or marking
- Mechanical assembly or hardware insertion
- Quality inspection
There is often shipping, transport, and coordination between every single phase! That’s a lot of moving parts for an engineer or buyer to keep track of. And if there’s any lag time or lack of communication between vendors, it can cause major delays.
Benefits of Supply Chain Management
Working with a manufacturer who also manages the supply chain has significant advantages. You’ll reduce quality issues, decrease lead times and even cost, and save a whole lot of energy. Key benefits of supply chain management include:
Project Management. Instead of directly managing several different manufacturers and subcontractors, we can manage part or all of the process for you. Those services could include:
- Maintaining and managing inventory
- Coordinating shipping and tracking
- Managing deadlines and providing just in time delivery
The administrative pieces of supply chain management add up quickly, and delegating your project management to Peerless Precision can save you valuable time and energy.
Quality Control. Supply chain management only works effectively if you trust that the end result will be perfect parts, delivered on time—every time. That’s why quality is so important to us. We perform all inspections (source inspection, first article inspection (FAI), final inspection) in house.
Everything that enters and exits our shop is personally inspected by our team, and nothing leaves our facility that isn’t 100% perfect. We also hold several quality certifications: AS9100D and ISO9001:2015 for aerospace machining and medical machining, as well as ITAR registration for defense machining.
Cost Reduction. At Peerless, we can save on cost in a few ways. First, we have the ability to do many operations in-house (ask us about the laser we invested in so that we could provide an in-house solution for customers and expand our capabilities). We may be able to negotiate better pricing with subcontractors based on the overall volume of work we send to them, where you may only have leverage based on your own order. And by working with local vendors, we can often cut down significantly on transportation and shipping costs.
Shorter Lead Times. Time is money. When we manage all or part of your supply chain for you, we’re always looking ahead to anticipate the next step in the process. We do all of our laser engraving in-house, so that cuts out the outside step and reduces lead times significantly (by as much as 50%!).
The bottom line: if you need supply chain management, contact our MA machine shop to see what we can do for you. Get a quote.