LightPath Technologies supplies IR molded optics for firefighting thermal-imaging cameras

June 9, 2015
Molded chalcogenide glass optical lens assemblies have a 40° field-of-view.

Infrared 40° field-of-view molded optical lens assemblies made by LightPath Technologies (Orlando, FL; NASDAQ: LPTH) have been selected for use in the manufacture of firefighting thermal-imaging cameras, LightPath announced. The unnamed company making the cameras is "a leading supplier of integrated products and technologies for defense departments and federal, state, and municipal government agencies worldwide," according to LightPath.

A 2014 report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Boulder, CO) notes that increased attention is being paid to thermal-imaging research in efforts to support firefighters, among other first responders. The report cites the need for using thermal imaging to create an information-rich environment for greater situational awareness for firefighters.

According to Maxtec International (Berwyn, IL), a market-research firm covering the infrared and thermal-imaging industries, the uncooled thermography market in 2014 was $582 million and the demand for thermal imagers has been growing. Of the more than 5 million firefighters worldwide, 1.1 million firefighters are in the U.S., where more than 35,000 fire departments respond to nearly 2 million fires every year, according to the National Fire Data Center.

Firefighters may rely in part on a thermal-imaging camera to navigate their way through a burning structure; therefore most imagers employ a wide FOV in the range of 40º to 60º. There are few cases in which a firefighter would need to focus on an object less than 1 m away, which encourages the use of relatively robust and lower-cost fixed focal length optics that focus from 1 m to infinity (as noted in NIST Technical Note 1499, Performance Metrics for Fire Fighting Thermal Imaging Cameras -- Small- and Full-Scale Experiments). LightPath produces optics that meets these and other specifications.

LightPath produces two types of chalcogenide IR glass materials and several types of antireflective coating that cover most requirements in the commercial and military high-volume and small-size application markets, says the company.

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This article was published by Laser Focus World on 6/9/2015

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