Optical instrument assembler


Optical instrument assemblers read blueprints and assembly drawings to assemble lenses and optical instruments, such as microscopes, telescopes, projection equipment, and medical diagnostic equipment. They process, grind, polish, and coat glass materials, centre lenses according to the optical axis, and cement them to the optical frame. They may test the instruments after assembly.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to optical instrument assembler:

optical equipment fabricator
optical equipment technician
fabricator of optical instruments
optical equipment assembler
optical instrument assembly practitioner
practitioner of optical instrument assembly
assembler of optical instruments
fabricator of optical equipment
optical assembly technician

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma is generally the minimum required to work as an optical instrument assembler.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Optical instrument assembler is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Optical instrument assembler career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to optical instrument assembler.

optical instrument repairer
photographic equipment assembler
semiconductor processor
precision instrument assembler
dental instrument assembler

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of optical instrument assembler. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of optical instrument assembler with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

optical instrument production supervisor
optomechanical engineering technician
optoelectronic engineering technician
photonics engineering technician
microsystem engineering technician

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of optical instrument assembler.

  • Glass tempering: Technique of treating glass with high temperatures to increase its durability and safety.
  • Optical equipment standards: The national and international quality and safety standards and regulations with regards to the use and manufacture of optical equipment, including optical materials, optical components, optical systems, ophthalmic equipment, optomechanical equipment, optical measuring equipment, photographic equipment, and optoelectronic equipment.
  • Optical glass characteristics: The characteristics of optical glass such as refractive index, dispersion, and chemical properties.
  • Types of optical instruments: Possess information on the types of optical instruments and lenses, such as microscopes and telescopes, as well as on their mechanics, components, and characteristics.
  • Quality standards: The national and international requirements, specifications and guidelines to ensure that products, services and processes are of good quality and fit for purpose.
  • Optical components: The components and materials necessary for building optical instruments, such as lenses and frames.
  • Optical manufacturing process: The process and different stages of manufacturing an optical product, from design and prototyping to the preparation of optical components and lenses, the assembly of optical equipment, and the intermediate and final testing of the optical products and its components.
  • Glass coatings: Coatings used to protect glass from damage, to influence its behaviour when damaged, to keep harmful UV rays out, and others. Their usage cases, advantages and disadvantages and price points.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of optical instrument assembler.

  • Inspect quality of products: Use various techniques to ensure the product quality is respecting the quality standards and specifications. Oversee defects, packaging and sendbacks of products to different production departments.
  • Mount optical components on frames: Mount optical components, such as lenses, and precision mechanical components, such as frames, into assemblies and adjust. Lenses are mechanically set into place using threaded retaining rings and the use of adhesive cement on the outer cylindrical edge to hold individual lenses in place.
  • Read assembly drawings: Read and interpret drawings listing all the parts and subassemblies of a certain product. The drawing identifies the different components and materials and provides instructions on how to assemble a product.
  • Remove defective products: Remove defective materials from the production line.
  • Operate precision measuring equipment: Measure the size of a processed part when checking and marking it to check if it is up to standard by use of two and three dimensional precision measuring equipment such as a caliper, a micrometer, and a measuring gauge.
  • Cut glass: Use glass cutting tools or diamond blades to cut pieces out of glass plates, including mirrors.
  • Manipulate glass: Manipulate the properties, shape and size of glass.
  • Operate optical equipment: Use specific optical machinery in order to cut, polish, adjust and refine optics.
  • Apply optical coating: Apply coating to optical lenses, such as reflective coating to mirrors, anti-reflective coatings to camera lenses, or tinted coatings to sunglasses.
  • Join lenses: Join the individual glass lenses together with other lenses using cement.
  • Verify lenses compliance: Verify that lenses are according to the specifications.
  • Meet deadlines: Ensure operative processes are finished at a previously agreed-upon time.
  • Report defective manufacturing materials: Maintain required company records and forms in order to report any defective materials or questionable conditions of manufacturing machinery and equipment.
  • Use precision tools: Use electronic, mechanical, electric, or optical precision tools for precision work.
  • Clean optical components: Clean optical components after every cycle in the manufacturing process.
  • Smooth glass surface: Smooth glass or lens surfaces of optical instruments with grinding and polishing tools, such as diamond tools.
  • Operate optical assembly equipment: Set up and operate optical processing or assembly equipment, such as optical spectrum analysers, power saws, lasers, die bonders, soldering irons, and wire bonders.
  • Grind glass: Grind and polish glass or lenses smooth through the application of a range of glass grinding techniques. Glass can be ground using hand tools or glass grinding machinery. Treat the glass with abrasive chemicals during the process.
  • Centre lenses: Adjust optical axis and mechanical axis of lenses so that they would coincident. This process is called centring.
  • Ensure conformity to specifications: Ensure that the assembled products are conform to the specifications given.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of optical instrument assembler. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Optomechanical devices: Devices which combine mechanical and optical properties, such as precision mirror mounts used in the construction of lasers, optical mounts used in the manufacture of cameras, and optical tables used for optics experiments and engineering.
  • Optics: The science that studies the elements and reaction of light.
  • Refractive power: Refractive power or optical power is the degree to which an optical system, such as a lens, converges or diverges light. Diverging lenses possess negative refractive power, while converging lenses possess positive refractive power.
  • Optical engineering: Subdiscipline of engineering that deals with the development of optical instruments and applications, such as telescopes, microscopes, lenses, lasers, fibre optic communication, and imaging systems.
  • Microoptics: Optical devices with a size of 1 millimeter or smaller, such as microlenses and micromirrors.
  • Optoelectronic devices: Electronic devices, systems, and components that possess optical features. These devices or components may include electrically driven light sources, such as LEDs and laser diodes, components that can convert light into electricity, such as solar or photovoltaic cells, or devices that can electronically manipulate and control light.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of optical instrument assembler. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Wear cleanroom suit: Wear garments appropriate for environments that require a high level of cleanliness to control the level of contamination.
  • Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
  • Monitor machine operations: Observe machine operations and evaluate product quality thereby ensuring conformity to standards.
  • Resolve equipment malfunctions: Identify, report and repair equipment damage and malfunctions; communicate with field representatives and manufacturers to obtain repair and replacement components.
  • Test optical components: Test optical systems, products, and components with appropriate optical testing methods, such as axial ray testing and oblique ray testing.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear: Wear relevant and necessary protective gear, such as protective goggles or other eye protection, hard hats, safety gloves.
  • Maintain optical equipment: Diagnose and detect malfunctions in optical systems, such as lasers, microscopes, and oscilloscopes. Remove, replace, or repair these systems or system components when necessary. Execute preventative equipment maintenance tasks, such as storing the equipment in clean, dust-free, and non-humid spaces.
  • Use cam software: Use computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) programmes to control machinery and machine tools in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimisation as part of the manufacturing processes of workpieces.
  • Replace defect components: Remove defective parts and replace them with functioning components.
  • Cut lenses for eyeglasses: Shape and cut lenses to fit into frames for eyeglasses, according to prescriptions or specifications.
  • Colour glass: Apply colouring to glass through a range of glass colouring techniques, such as adding colouring ions, striking or applying heat treatment, using colouring inclusions, applying light scattering techniques or colour coatings.
  • Keep records of work progress: Maintain records of the progress of the work including time, defects, malfunctions, etc.
  • Repair optical equipment: Identify the problem of the optical instrument, check for deterioration, and replace deficient components.
  • Order optical supplies: Order optical equipment and materials, paying attention to the price, quality, and suitability of the supplies.
  • Apply health and safety standards: Adhere to standards of hygiene and safety established by respective authorities.
  • Adjust manufacturing equipment: Regulate and monitor the manufacturing equipment settings and process parameters, such as its temperature and power level. Review the manufacturing process and equipment and suggest improvements.
  • Process customer orders: Handle orders placed by customers. Receive the customer order and define a list of requirements, a working process, and a time frame. Execute the work as planned.

ISCO group and title

7311 – Precision-instrument makers and repairers

  1. Optical instrument assembler – ESCO
Last updated on September 28, 2022

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