As more industries shift from metal to plastic components to achieve more performance attributes, cost savings, and resistance to wear, polymer injection molding is rapidly becoming the industry standard for manufacturing optical components.
Choosing the best polymer injection molding manufacturer for your custom optical project can be challenging in this massive market. Though injection molding offers many advantages, it’s just as essential to work with a manufacturer with an in-depth understanding of design guidelines and performance needs to ensure a successful finished product.
Learn more about polymer injection molding and what we offer at Apollo Optical Systems.
What Is Polymer Injection Molding?
Polymer injection molding is a manufacturing technology used to mass-produce identical polymer parts. Most plastic parts are manufactured with injection molding, particularly car and electronic components.
There are many benefits to polymer injection molding, particularly regarding precision and high-volume production. After prototyping, injection molded components can be produced identically at a low per-unit cost, making this manufacturing method ideal for mass production.
Benefits of Injection Molding
Injection molding is a reliable and efficient manufacturing method for mass-produced components or high-precision parts. It’s highly flexible and can meet the demands of complex components and systems, particularly for challenging applications like military and medical uses.
For high-volume, time-sensitive projects, polymer injection molding can offer incredible precision over thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of parts with a cost-effective per unit cost.
With polymer injection molding, you can use different polymers with different properties and advantages, including thermoplastics, silicones, thermosets, and resins. In some cases, they may be able to blend to achieve additional strength requirements, and thousands of engineered materials are compatible with injection-molded parts.
These components also have tight tolerances to adhere to strict project specifications, and once created for optimal performance, the process is highly repeatable. Injection molding typically produces parts with tolerances of ± 0.500 mm or possibly as tight as ± 0.125 mm for specific projects. This level of accuracy is much higher than alternative methods like CNC machining or 3D printing.
Core Markets for Polymer Injection Molded Components
At Apollo Optical Systems, we specialize in optical components for a variety of core markets:
Injection-molded components are commonly found in consumer electronics, particularly with housing, to protect metal components from temperature changes and harsh environments.
Our components include gesture recognition, 3D imaging, and virtual and augmented reality products. These products rely on high-precision optical components with tight performance and budget specifications.
Our commercial products market is broad and includes various components and systems. Typically more complex than some consumer products, commercial products may consist of advanced systems for cameras, projection systems, solar concentrators, and aircraft lighting.
We also work with security and anti-counterfeit devices, such as holograms and scanners, as well as barcodes and scanners for other commercial uses. Injection-molded components are also ideal for semiconductor inspection equipment, which requires compliance and adherence to specific criteria.
Light emitting diode (LED) lighting is a large market, as LED bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs. They’re used in consumer, commercial, automotive, aircraft, outdoor, refrigerated case lighting, etc.
At Apollo Optical Systems, we produce injection-molded components for architectural, medical, aircraft, and automotive lighting applications. We also work with substrate-guided optical components, such as head-mounted displays that rely on an optical module for an imaging lens and a combiner. We may use microlens arrays for beam shaping and homogenization applications.
Optics for medical products and technology have strict guidelines and policies that must be adhered to protect patients and physicians. In the US, all medical components must use FDA-compliant and ISO-certified resins, for example. Medical manufacturers should have a quality program in place, such as ISO 13485:2016, to ensure compliance with medical device regulations.
At Apollo Optical Systems, we manufacture plastic components for different medical devices and instruments. This may include illumination devices, analytical instrumentation, medical cameras, device sensors, and head-mounted optics. Ophthalmology and endoscopy are the biggest segments for these components, but they have wide use across medical disciplines.
The average vehicle contains about 30,000 internal and external parts, many of which are optical sensors or lighting systems components.
We provide components for interior lighting, head and tail lights, backup lighting and cameras, emergency vehicle lighting, and substrate-guided total internal reflection (TIR) light pipes. We also provide sensors used in everything from advanced safety technology to engine and component sensors like the throttle position, oxygen, mass flow, fuel, and MAP sensors.
Optics play a vital role in defense and military systems, including communication devices and navigation devices. These products have barcode identifiers, circuit chips, ultraviolet light, or laser components.
This sector relies on cutting-edge innovations engineered to exact specifications, all while meeting the demands of durability, cost-efficiency, and lightweight. Apollo Optical Systems is challenged to create advanced guidance systems, weapon-mounted illumination and sensors, night vision products, optical sensors, and head-mounted displays for military and defense uses.
Why Choose Apollo Optical Systems?
Apollo Optical Systems is a leading manufacturer of polymer injection molded optical components. With a keen understanding of the design and manufacturing phases of demanding custom optics projects, we can provide consistent, high-quality parts that exceed industry standards while balancing your performance and cost specifications.
When you choose us for your optical manufacturing, we will work closely alongside you to ensure a successful optical design. Our comprehensive approach includes all critical aspects of the process, including component and system design, mechanical design, mold design, single-point diamond turning for prototypes, low- and high-volume capabilities, materials expertise, and extensive metrology.
Polymer Injection Molding at Apollo Optical Systems
When you’re looking for expertise to develop your custom optical project with polymer injection molding, there’s no better choice than Apollo Optical Systems. World leaders in optical design and manufacturing, we have the experience and capabilities to create innovative optical solutions with injection-molded polymers. Contact us today to discuss your project!