Using Polymer Optics in Harsh Environments
January 6, 2020
By Dan Fiore, Director of Business Development
Polymer optics are
being used in a much wider array of applications as the manufacturing processes
becomes more refined and the variety of polymers available for unique
applications increases. Polymer optics in their virgin form (as molded,
machined or diamond-turned) are still very soft and fragile. To overcome this
obstacle, polymer material suppliers have been working with enhancements at the
resin level, but such improvements have not yielded the results needed to
sustain polymer optics in the most severe environments.
techniques can be used to help make polymer optics more robust. Among the most
durable is a dip, spray, or spin applied resin coating known as polysiloxane.
This is a thermally or UV light cured resin that can be optically matched to a
polymer and provides a durable smooth surface. Polysiloxane coatings help
polymer optics survive thermal, environmental, abrasion, chemical, and adhesion
challenges that occur in the most unforgiving of environments. All polysiloxane
deposition techniques have their advantages and disadvantages which can be
discussed with a thin-film coating professional in order to select the
appropriate deposition method for your unique application.
When coupled with a
vacuum deposited coating, polysiloxane coatings offer a great foundation for a
durable film that can survive in some of the most challenging applications.
Additional advancements in vacuum deposited coatings have also helped make
polymer optics a fantastic solution for all types of environments. To date we
have supplied coated polymers to the military for use in night-vision and
sighting applications, to commercial aviation customers for use in the cockpit
of an airliner that sees hundreds of thousands of customers yearly, and even to
theme parks where park guests constantly handle coated plastics day in and day
We’d love to chat more about your program and see if
our coating solutions are a fit for your application. Please give us a call so
we can help you with your decision as to which process is most beneficial for