Case Study: Producing High Precision Ceramic Freeform Optics with the UFF 300

Vertex Optics Case Study

Vertex Optics Company Profile

Vertex Optics is a U.S. manufacturer of prototype to high volume quantities of precision optics and ceramic components for the medical, defense, semi-conductor, and energy industries. Vertex Optics specializes in high precision components made from brittle materials such as optical glasses, crystals, and technical ceramics.

Using the latest in CNC technology, Vertex Optics offers a variety of precision optics and ceramic components for all types of applications. With decades of experience in optics and ceramics manufacturing, you can count on Vertex Optics to meet your precision, production, and budget requirements.

Manufacturing Challenge: High Precision Ceramic Freeform Optic

Vertex accepted a project in early 2021 that needed a process developed to yield a high precision ceramic freeform optic. The customer specializes in developing unique ceramic materials and has many manufacturing capabilities in house. However, this component needed to be made to a finish and precision that was not readily available with their in-house technologies or from other companies.

Technical Situation

The part was a technical ceramic window approximately 50mm X 75mm X 1mm with no rotational symmetry. The part needed a form accuracy of less than 2 microns P.V. and a surface roughness less than 50 angstroms rms with cosmetics better than 60/40. The material was very hard and had a very high fracture toughness.

Best Practices in Manufacturing Freeforms

Solution: UFF 300 5-Axis Optical Polishing Machine

Using the UFF 300 machine, Vertex was able to develop a polishing solution for this new material and deliver a prototype part in 12 weeks. One key element in meeting the deadline is how quickly the UFF 300 can change from one polishing formula to another. The UFF offers several fixed abrasive belts and urethane belts that can be changed in less than a minute. Vertex used the fixed abrasive belts in conjunction with peristaltic pumps to deliver different slurries until they had just the right formulation. The UFF’s adaptability allowed Vertex to quickly find a polishing solution that worked well on the customers’ material. Once the proper formula had been unmasked the UFF 300 polished the freeforms’ surface to a form error of less than 2 microns and reached a surface roughness of 30Å rms with cosmetics that were better than the required 60/40.


Jay Tierson, President at Vertex Optics, states:

“The primary benefit Vertex finds in the UFF 300 is its adaptability. The prototype component was delivered in spec and on time because the UFF is so easily configured. Once the prototype part was complete, the machine was easily reconfigured to the production setup used for a standard Vertex Optics product. This flexibility allows Vertex to rapidly develop new processes for their customers which in turn leads to production products. This flow from prototype to production has allowed Vertex to become a successful organization in only a few years.”

Vertex is now in the next stage of development with the customer and working towards large scale production of several products using the customers’ material.

For more information on Vertex Optics and to partner with them for your optical manufacturing needs, go to

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