Colorado Tech Workshop 2022

The American Precision Optics Manufacturers’ Association (APOMA) held its 2022 biennial workshop on November 9-11th in Boulder, CO. The event was a full 2 1/2 days featuring a tour of NIST Labs, multiple networking events, and presentations. With over 100 attendees and 16 presenters, the workshop offered fresh insights into the most-advanced optical polishing techniques, as well as the latest material technology, and advanced research on the principles of surface finishing.

This year’s event commenced with an Open House at Front Range Community College’s (FRCC) Center for Integrated Manufacturing (CIM), guided by Dr. Amanda Meier, Optics Technology Program Director. FRCC is a growing program with key disciplines in optics, machining, automation, and electronics. The FRCC program is focused on preparing the next generation of manufacturing opticians through hands-on fabrication learning and targeted coursework that benefits the optics and photonics industry.

NIST Laboratory Tour

Participants had the opportunity to visit multiple labs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a world leader in the physical sciences and precision measurement for more than 60 years. The numerous labs that were toured included laser metrology, time scale/transfer & atomic clock, EUV tomography, and 3D printing with spectrographic qualifications.

“It was incredible to hear and see the passion these scientists have for their work. They were extremely welcoming and told us to take pictures and ask questions. It was all very impressive.” — Lyle Caouette, Paramount Glassworks

Workshop Presentations

The two days of presentations were a curated mix tape of optical processing and supporting knowledge for manufacturers. Everything from freeform optical fabrication to high-powered lasers to ISO standards to international trade regulations to sub-surface chemical and polish interactions was covered. Attendees heard from Dr. Tayyab Suratwala of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory whose Rules of Thumb for Optical Fabrication provided in-depth insights on processes to optimize the best results in precision polished surfaces. Jayson Nelson of Edmund Optics gave a fascinating presentation on the Beilby layer and how polishing disrupts the glass surface on a molecular level.

The selection of Boulder for this year’s APOMA conference was intended to highlight the vast optics and photonics community in Colorado as well as to continue collaboration and optical education. Part of APOMA’s commitment is to serve as a unified voice in promoting expansion and growth of the optics manufacturing base. Concluding the workshop, APOMA President-elect Lee Steneken presented a $7,300 donation to Front Range Community College. This donation was made on behalf of APOMA and with additional support from Esco Optics, PR Hoffman, ThorLabs, IRD Glass, Colorado Thin Films and Ray Williamson Consulting.

APOMA extends its thanks to FRCC, NIST and the Boulder community for contributing to a very successful and enjoyable workshop!

“I’m extremely delighted with the feedback from the workshop. This was a big undertaking to produce and our presentation lineup had something for everyone. This gathering is a signature event for APOMA and it’s great to spend time with other manufacturers and share ideas away from the distractions of the tradeshow floor.” — Lee Steneken, Esco Optics/APOMA


APOMA members attending technical presentations (left), and networking during the welcome reception (right).

A tribute to John Greivenkamp.

Dr. Amanda Meier (FRCC) and Tech Workshop Chair Lee Steneken (Esco).

Connecting at Happy Hour!