Factory Tour

Insights and outlooks: virtual tour through the lens construction division at Schneider-Kreuznach

The development of top lens systems for photographic applications is our passion. The manufacturing process is based on decades of experience in lens construction, always with one aim in mind: to keep testing the boundaries of physics. Supported by high-performance computers and cutting-edge production facilities, our optical and mechanical experts in Bad Kreuznach continuously strive to further improve the engineering, design and production of precision lenses for digital cameras.

Would you like to find out how the development and construction of Schneider camera lenses works? Then come with us on a virtual tour through our design and production facilities. Experience how a Schneider lens comes into being – from a mathematical formula to the final inspection.


It all starts with mathematics: lens development on the computer

High-performance computers and highly specialised design software are the tools used by modern lens designers. The latest Computer Aided Design (CAD) techniques enable even the most complex designs to be calculated, simulated and tested very quickly. Together with cutting-edge calculation techniques, tradition is another cornerstone of the overall process. During lens development, Schneider experts are able to fall back on the experience gained in the making of many thousands of optical components. Decades of precision-optics expertise and advanced computing go hand in hand.

From drawing board to production: CAD-based lens design

Once the lens development phase is completed, Schneider engineers define the geometric requirements to ensure perfect interaction between the fittings and the optical components. The complete lens system is then drawn up on the computer to ensure that the calculated quality is implemented mechanically with the utmost precision.

Turning, milling, drilling: computer-controlled production of lens fittings

The fittings for Schneider lens systems are made of aluminium and brass and are manufactured in state-of-the-art CNC production facilities. The process starts with computer-controlled operations, such as turning, milling and drilling, and ends with a sophisticated finish for the fitting surface including an inscription. The aim is to produce a robust and lightweight design for maximum comfort and reliability.

A crucial element: CNC-based lens machining

In order to achieve maximum manufacturing accuracy and reproducibility Schneider-Kreuznach uses high-precision, computer-controlled manufacturing technologies for lens production. In a number of manufacturing stages, the lenses are cut, polished, centred and coated. A special challenge is presented by the fact that many of the 130 different types of glass used in the process require particularly gentle treatment. Schneider continuously develops these techniques further and adapts them to suit new materials.

Beyond the sphere: production of aspheric lenses

High reproduction performance despite ever-increasing miniaturisation: this precision-optics balancing act can only be mastered with aspheric lenses, i.e. lenses with a shape that deviates from the conventional sphere. Schneider-Kreuznach has been among the technological leaders in the production of such aspheric optical component surfaces for decades. The company uses the particularly efficient magnetorheological finishing (MRF) process.

Contrast optimisation and protection: lens coating

The final stage in lens production at Schneider-Kreuznach is the coating. A high-quality antireflective coating protects the sensitive special glass from chemical and physical influences. This also improves the contrast rendering and effectively reduces picture noise in digital cameras. In this final stage of manufacture Schneider-Kreuznach is also one of the technological leaders worldwide. At the coating centre in Bad Kreuznach Schneider, lenses are coated in several transparent metal oxide layers (multicoating) under clean-room conditions in high-vacuum facilities.

All's well that lens well: the final inspection

The name Schneider-Kreuznach has synonymous with top quality for many decades. One pillar of this success is the stringent final inspection in production. Each lens passes through a three-stage test procedure. First, computer-controlled measuring instruments check the precision of the mechanical components (3D precision measurement). Optical engineers then use modulation transfer function (MTF) measurements to check whether the optical system as built deviates from the calculated system. The final step is a visual inspection of each individual lens. If checks are successful, the high-performance lens then leaves the plant bearing the label “Made in Kreuznach”.