Optical Domes and Other Services
Criterion Technology, Inc. specializes in the manufacturing of high-performance, optical-quality plastic dome covers and parts. Most of our products are custom designed for original equipment camera manufacturers to be used as dome covers for security cameras, underwater cameras or other technical applications. In addition to custom products, we offer a selection of standard optical dome covers in popular sizes. Over the years, we have gained significant expertise in the application of acrylic and polycarbonate polymers as protective covers in a wide variety of application environments. With advances in polymers and a widening field of applications, we continually research new materials to be used in our injection molded domes to provide solutions to the ever- changing world of technology. For an overview of our capabilities, see our video to the right. Criterion Technology, Inc. offers an extensive variety of design and manufacturing capabilities such as injection molding, thermoforming, plastic welding, specialty coatings, and a variety of other services. Click on our services to the right for more.
DESIGN AND ANALYSIS
Success in molding high-performance optical parts involves a great deal of expertise in the design of both the part and the tool to make that part. Criterion’s advanced injection molding process results in parts of excellent optical quality and durability at a very economical price point. Our field support and engineering teams take a very active role in working with our customers’ engineering and product marketing teams to achieve the results they need.
With our 27 years of experience making optical domes and windows, we can often make design suggestions that will avoid problems. Our engineers use a CAD software system to build and/or modify customer-supplied designs. Customers need only supply solid model design files, and our engineers will take it from design concept to mold tooling. We recognize that the tooling required to make high-performance optical-grade domes and parts is a significant investment for most companies. With increasing performance of camera and lens technology, the impact that an optical dome cover might have on overall performance becomes a critical concern.
Criterion offers of variety of sophisticated design services such as predictive optics and mold flow analysis to ensure a successful outcome. We are proud to offer an array of domes for many technical applications including dome covers for security cameras, impact resistant polycarbonate domes, optical CCTV domes, subsea and AUV dome ports, Lidar enclosures, LED lighting lenses, refractors and diffusers. At Criterion Technology, Inc., we constantly analyze each step of our manufacturing process via value stream mapping and lean manufacturing methods. We perform cost base analysis on each product to determine when investments in automation or tooling upgrades (such as multi cavity tooling) can help drive down the unit costs. We provide all our customers with one-time NRE cost when designing and building tools and other related manufacturing fixtures. It is not unusual for contract molders to continually invoice for wear or broken parts on the tooling. We do not believe in that philosophy; we perform strictly monitored preventive maintenance to all tooling and related manufacturing fixtures and support equipment at no charge to our customers.
DESIGN AND TOOLING
The design of tooling is critical to producing high-quality optical domes and parts. Pressure and turbulence during the molding process can cause the plastic to set with high levels of internal stresses. This condition can cause spatial variations in optical behavior. A mold flow analysis using injection molding simulation software provides us the ability to optimize the part during the solid modeling stage of the tool design. This detailed analysis provides in-depth simulations that we can share with your product design engineers, in order to:
• Reduce the need for costly mold rework and physical prototypes
• Minimize delays associated with design changes after initial release
• Combine with our predictive optical capabilities to help get products to market faster
OPTICAL INSPECTION PROCEDURES
We put all of our optical domes through many inspection procedures to insure perfection and clarity. Criterion is proud to have a long working relationship with the Center for Applied Optics (CAO) at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). The CAO has over 27 years of experience in the design, analysis, fabrication, testing and integration of optical sensor systems from the lab to the space environment. Together, the CAO and Criterion have conceived and employed a simple qualitative dome testing system developed for use on the factory floor. In addition, Criterion and the CAO have collaborated in developing appropriate computational models and methods for the prediction of performance for a variety of camera/dome systems. With these valuable models, our engineers can predict and prevent poor optical design elements within a system. Given today’s need for complex optical forms, this service can save thousands of dollars and many months in the product development process. The camera and the dome have to work together as a system. The best quality optical dome in the world will not perform well unless it is designed with the camera and lens in mind. Criterion engineers working with CAO have developed the specialized ability to evaluate an optical dome’s potential for optical distortion as it relates to camera position – including the challenge of looking above the horizon. We have developed several proprietary methods for producing hemispherical domes that transition to a straight side above the horizon. These designs involve complex geometry to improve clarity and minimize distortion.