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Cylindrical Lenses


As the name suggests, a cylindrical lens is an optical lens with a cylindrical or semi-cylindrical shape. Like a spherical lens, a cylindrical lens has one curved and one flat side. Unlike a spherical lens, however, cylindrical lenses aren’t fully symmetrical — the orientation of a cylindrical lens affects how it transmits light.

When you’re considering a cylindrical lens versus a spherical lens, the most important distinction is where the lens brings light into focus. A spherical lens brings beams of light to focus at a single point for viewing. A cylindrical lens, by comparison, focuses light onto a line. This change happens because light comes into focus at different points depending on where on the axis it enters the lens. All the focus points line up exactly, producing a horizontal or vertical line of light, depending on the lens orientation.

Through this type of one-dimensional amplification, cylindrical lenses effectively correct spherical and chromatic aberrations. As a result, cylindrical lenses are widely used to correct ocular astigmatism and change image size.

What Makes Cylindrical Lenses Important?

The main significance of a cylindrical lens is its ability to focus light onto a continuous line rather than a fixed point. This quality gives the cylindrical lens various unique abilities, such as laser line generation. Some of these applications simply aren’t possible with a spherical lens. Cylindrical lens capabilities include:

  • Correcting astigmatism in imaging systems
  • Adjusting the height of an image
  • Creating circular, rather than elliptic, laser beams
  • Compressing images to one dimension

Cylindrical lenses find use in a wide range of industries. Common applications for cylindrical optical lenses include detector lighting, bar code scanning, spectroscopy, holographic lighting, optical information processing and computer technology. Because applications for these lenses tend to be highly specific, you may need to order custom cylindrical lenses to achieve the desired results.

Our Advantage

Shanghai Optics can produce a variety of specifications and different radii, using different glass material (Schott, Ohara, CDGM, Fused Silica, MgF2, CaF2, ZnSe, ZnS etc.). Examples are: Plano-Convex Cylindrical lens, Plano-Concave Cylindrical lens, Bi-Convex Cylindrical lens, Double Concave Cylindrical lens, Meniscus Cylindrical lens. We also can produce special Cylindrical lenses, such as Achromatic Cylindrical lens, Parabolic Mirrors, Cylindrical Ellipsoidal Mirror and double curved Cylindrical lens, such as Aspheric Cylindrical lens and Cylindrical lens group. In addition, we even can produce the requirements of complex shape Cylindrical lenses, such as fan-shaped lenses, the Off-Axis Cylindrical Mirrors, angled Cylindrical Mirrors. Requests can include special Glass materials including ultraviolet and infrared quartz; or crystals like fluorinated calcium.
Shanghai Optics has acquired custom made CGH Cylinder Nulls for most  F/#’s and apertures for cylindrical lenses testing. Combined with our Zygo interferometer, Shanghai Optics can measure and provide interferogram and inspection reports in the most precise fashion.

Factory Standard – Contact us for manufacturing limit or custom specifications.

  • Substrate Material: Schott, Ohara, CDGM, Corning Fused Silica and JGS1, JGS2
  • Shape: P-Concave, P-Convex or Aspheric
  • Focal length: +/-1%
  • Surface Quality: 20-10 (after coating)
  • Surface figure: l/4 @ 633nm
  • Angle: +/-5″
  • Clear Aperture: >90% of central dimension

Cylindrical Lens Capabilities

SpecificationsFactory StandardsManufacturing Limit
Dimension Tolerance+/-0.03mm+/-0.01mm
Center Thickness Tolerance+/-0.03 mm+/-0.02mm
Radius Tolerance+/-0.3%+/-0.1%
Surface Quality(S/D)40-2010-5
Irregularity(Plano Surface)1/8Lambda< 1/15Lambda
Irregularity(Cylindrical Surface)1/4Lambda< 1/8Lambda
Centration(arc min)3′1′

How Cylindrical Lenses Are Produced

Cylindrical lenses generally take more effort to produce than spherical lenses, though both types require great precision. The lenses are made of optical glass and are either molded or cut out of a cylinder to your specifications. The lenses are then polished, coated and examined for proper power and performance.

Producing a cylindrical lens with the proper measurements can take a lot of time, which is why Shanghai Optics uses high-speed polishers that allow us to produce lenses 10 times faster than those using traditional polishing methods. With speed, precision and high quality-control standards, S.O. has the ability to manufacture custom cylindrical lenses to meet a variety of specific needs.

We can manufacture cylinder lenses with different types of glass, different radii and custom shapes. We can also craft special types of lenses, including achromatic cylindrical lenses, parabolic mirrors, cylindrical ellipsoidal mirrors and double curved cylindrical lenses.

Custom Cylindrical Lenses From S.O.

Many projects require custom optical lenses, and for cylindrical lenses, customization is the norm rather than the exception. After all, in order to achieve the desired results, a cylindrical lens must match the exact dimension and specifications necessary to project a line of the proper length and focal distance.

If you’re looking for a manufacturer that can produce custom cylindrical lenses to your exact specifications, Shanghai Optics would make a strong choice. We have more than 55 years of experience designing, manufacturing and refining custom optical lenses for use in a range of industries. Our production staff follows strict ISO 9001 standards and uses state-of-the-art metrology equipment to test finished lenses for quality and performance.

Choose from N-BK7 glass, UV fused silica, or CaF,or other special materials specified by customers, all of which are available uncoated or with an antireflection coating with surface accuracy up to λ/8 and surface quality up to 10-5.

To learn how S.O. could assist with your current optics project, request a quote online or contact one of our friendly representatives for more information.


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