What is an Autocollimator?

Generally, a collimator is a device that narrows a beam of particles or waves. An Autocollimator uses a collimating lens to measure deflections in optical or mechanical systems. Autocollimators have two popular flavors; Optical and Laser Analyzing.

Visual autocollimators use an eyepiece and manual operation and verification for aligning the ends of laser rods, and checking parallelism for small samples. Laser Analyzing, or simply Laser, Autocollimators use a laser beam’s deflection onto a CCD (Charged-Couple Device) sensor for measurement. Laser Autocollimators are useful for several applications in the field of optics, and in other industry settings too. A few basic examples will be covered in this post.

Basic Internal Layout of a Laser Autocollimator

Basic Diagram of Tilt Measurement Using a Laser Autocollimator

Benefits of using a Laser Autocollimator:

An optical Autocollimator might be accurate, but it is not known to be easy to use, quick, or cost effective. A displacement sensor is simple and low cost, but is not renowned for combining high precision with quick measurement, and has problems with small samples.

The Laser Autocollimator uses a processing unit that can be programmed with the desired displacement angle to test. Once it is programmed the monitor gives a straightforward OK or NG reading along with angle displacement readings in the corner window. This allows for quick and easy measurements for your application.

OK/NO GO Screen Read Outs

Common Applications:

Laser autocollimators are used extensively in the optics industry as a tool to align optical components such as lenses, prisms, and gratings. Outside of the optics industry, laser autocollimators are commonly used to measure things like flatness of a surface, parallelism between two surfaces, or even the runout of a mechanical rotation component such as a semiconductor wafer alignment machine.

Optical application example for laser autocollimator

In optical applications, a sharp, high quality, image is the goal. A laser autocollimator can be used to align the lenses, image sensors, and optical components inside of various cameras of different sizes. Smaller lenses, such as smartphone cameras and automobile reverse and driver assistance cameras, are a very common example in modern times. Laser autocollimators can also be used to align the mirrors and prisms inside of a complex lens, such as a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera.

Optical element and multibeam applications

Diffraction gratings for and optical elements for optical pickup components can also be measured using a laser autocollimator with the proper processing unit, such as the HIP1200. Optical Pickups are often used for musical instruments such as electric guitars.

Parallelism measurements

In more traditional industrial applications, flatness and parallelism measurements can be done for a wide variety of industrial applications that may require a precise degree of either measurement. Runout of a rotating component can also be measured depending on the speed of the component. There will be more detail about these applications in later blog posts.

MISUMI’s Laser Autocollimator is a relatively low cost, precise and quick, easy to use, and good for small sample measurements. Explore now! You can also reach out to the dedicated MISUMI Optical team at stages@misumiusa.com.

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    What is an Autocollimator?

    Generally, a collimator is a device that narrows a beam of particles or waves. An Autocollimator uses a collimating lens to ...
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  1. Dana Patelzick

    May 14, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    Well done. One of my favorite and most desired tools.


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