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When should I consider Reverse Engineering a lens?

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Our customers ask us this question often. Because redesigning lens assemblies involves incomplete materials, tolerance, and performance information, some find it a daunting process. There’s no quick answer to solve the problem so here are some key points to keep in mind.


When is Reverse Engineeing not a good idea?

Step away from reverse engineering if either of these scenarios applies to your project:

You are ordering fewer than 10 lenses or assemblies.
The answer is definitely NO. If you need a few assemblies every year, it’s highly unlikely that anyone can provide a cost-effective, high-quality solution.

Lead time for your finished product is less than six weeks.
The answer is also NO. It’s almost impossible to complete a feasibility study, characterize and design the optics, design the mechanical housing, manufacture the components, and complete the lens assembly in less than 6 weeks of lead time.

In these cases, reverse engineering is not worth your time, effort, and money.


When Reverse Engineering is an excellent idea?

As we all know, life happens. The following less-than-ideal situations illustrate how reverse engineering can save time, effort and production costs:

There’s a gap in your supply chain.

Over time, companies drop product lines, change specifications, or go out of business altogether. If your product relies on a unique part from a specific vendor, supply chain interruption scan bring your entire production to a nightmarish halt.

You’re locked into an expensive, single-vendor relationship.
Optical engineers typically select standard, off-the-shelf (OTS) optical components and integrate them into their product designs. Suppliers often raise the price of OTS parts. If you’re locked into an off-the-shelf assembly design without a competitively priced component, there’s little that you can do. Your component and your product might become unaffordable.

But before you say good-bye to your profits, consider this: reverse engineering puts you back in control. You can recreate lenses with all the properties, dimensions, and functional requirements of the original component resulting in a more cost effective solution.

You need parts that are obsolete or hard to find.
Often, when your equipment is out of date or badly needs repair, you can’t find the right optical components. Reverse engineering can provide lenses with the quality and performance you need at an affordable price.

You want to optimize optical system performance.
The off-the-shelf lenses you add to your product are designed for a broad range of uses—yours could be one of a thousand if not more applications. And often, suppliers sell off-the-shelf parts with fixed specifications such as length, diameter, or f-number. That leaves you with a very big problem. You’re flying blind.
As a customer, you don’t own, control, or even have access to the actual design specs. To improve lens performance and match the original functionality of the interface and assembly, you must redesign the lens. Reverse engineering is an affordable way to reconstruct new lenses with all the data of the original component.

Your optical products are selling very well. How do you satisfy a high level of demand?
Maintaining supplies of high-performance or highly specialized optics can strain your production process. It is often more cost-effective to customize commercial off-the-shelf lenses by reverse engineering them instead of using your previous OTS optical solutions.

Any of the above situations is an excellent reason to consider reverse engineering optical lenses or optical assemblies.  Shanghai Optics agile production methods and design engineering expertise help you redesign or upgrade existing optics—and keep production costs under control.

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