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July 30, 2022

Illumination Optics and Why a Top Manufacturing Company Is Vital

In the past, illumination optics systems were developed based on reflectors, prisms, and Fresnel optics. These designs were limited, so an illumination optics manufacturing company couldn’t develop smart lighting.

Since the early 2000s, LED technology has evolved rapidly, expanding into new territories with indoor and outdoor lighting systems with high luminous efficiencies and increased mechanical and optical stability.

There are numerous types of illumination optics, and types of illumination, and the prototyping and manufacturing are critical components in the final product’s success.

How Do Illumination Optics Work?

Illumination optics require a multidisciplinary approach that includes process engineering, cost engineering, mathematics, lighting standards, regulations considerations, and more.

Here are the types of illumination:[1]

Directional Illumination

Directional illumination has a point source of light from one of multiple sources. Lenses may spread out or focus, resulting in bright and flexible illumination. However, this type of illumination has a high potential for glare and shadowing. LED spotlights, incandescent light, and fiber optic light guides often use this type of illumination.

Glancing Illumination

Like directional illumination, glancing illumination has a point source but with a sharp angle of incidence. This enables the illumination to enhance an object’s topography while reducing shadowing. LED spotlights, fiber optic light guides, focusing assemblies, incandescent lights, and line light guides may also use this type of illumination.

Diffuse Illumination

Diffuse illumination has a wide beam of light that’s directed obliquely. The light is scattered, and therefore evenly distributed, causing no sharp shadows, similar to the way the sun shines with cloud cover. It’s large and difficult to fit in confined spaces, so fluorescent linear lights often use diffuse illumination.

Structured Light

Structured light is light patterns that may be projected onto an object in the form of circles, grids, spots, or other patterns. This enhances surface features by shining intense illumination into small, targeted areas. This type of light may be absorbed by other colors, however. Lasers with line generating or diffractive pattern generating optics generally use structured light.

Polarized Light

Polarized light is a type of directional illumination that uses polarized light to remove specularities and hot spots. This type of filter provides even lighting and reduces glare. However, the overall light intensity may be reduced when the filter is placed in front of a light source. This type of light is typically used with polarization filters and polarizer/analyzer adaptors.


Brightfield/backlight illumination lights an object from behind to silhouette opaque objects or to image through transparent objects. It offers high contrast but may eliminate surface detail. Brightfield illumination is used for fiber optic backlights and LED backlights.

The types of LED optics include:

Primary LED Optics

LEDs typically face in one direction, with the spatial distribution measured in degrees from the center. Each optic has a beam that extends to either side of the center point, so the entire lumen output from the LED encompasses the entire spectrum.

The closer to the center of the beam, the stronger the light output. The intensity decreases as you move from the center. Therefore, secondary optics may be necessary to improve brightness and efficiency.

Secondary LED Optics

Secondary LED optics may include optics, reflectors, and total internal reflectors. These can collimate the light from a source and magnify its intensity toward the desired area while also improving the color uniformity and light distribution.

Applications that use illumination optics include:

The Importance of an Illumination Optics Manufacturing Company

Illumination optics are complex and require the design and development expertise of an experienced optics manufacturer. The complexities of illumination require specialized tools to determine the correct optical surfaces for achieving the desired illumination profile.

At Apollo Optical Systems, we offer complete design, development, and manufacturing of illumination optics. We provide small form factor arrays, cluster holders, linear strip, and IP-rated optics. The quality and standards maintained by our production team make our optics the ideal choice for product designs and custom arrays.

We also offer prototyping for optics and can scale up for large-scale production. This helps you reduce costs, correct defects, and improve time to market. Including complex shapes and surfaces becomes cost-effective and practical to take your design to the next level.

Start Your Custom Optics Project Today

Apollo Optical Systems offers a dedicated and experienced team for your custom optics project. We handle every aspect of the process, from design and development to prototyping and production. Contact us to discuss your custom optics project!