What Does it Mean? Even More Acronyms
Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Since we first began this series of posts in March, we’ve been giving some insider expertise on a few acronyms and how they pertain to the fields the Greenlight Optics team works in. It’s time to jot down some new notes because we’ve rounded up a few more acronyms that once again, may have a deeper meaning than you initially thought. This time though, these acronyms are near and dear to us, because they relate to some of the applications our team works on.

•     NC/CNC
This particular acronym has changed to reflect the development of technology through the years. Initially just referred to as NC for numerical control, as much of the work for numerical control is now done on computers, it’s referred to as computer numerical control or (Do you see where we’re heading with this?) CNC. While this is a familiar term/acronym for us, we realize it may not be for everyone. Numerical control is the automation of machine tools. However, these machine tools aren’t those that are manually or mechanically controlled; NC means machine tools are operated by programmed commands that have been encoded on a storage medium. For computer numerical control, this is still the automation of machine tools, however, the computers command most — if not, all — of the control. At the Greenlight Optics facility, the experienced employees we have are well trained in CNC machining capabilities; they work with CNC lathes, machining centers, etc. to build precision mount parts and injection molds. Specific intentions and applications for CNC machinery vary from one machine type to another. However, one of the most basic functions of CNC applied to any machinery is automatic, precise, and consistent motion control.

•     MTF
This is an acronym that is highly important in the design and manufacturing of many optical systems. When comparing the performance of optical systems, someone working on such a project is going to use a common measure known as MTF, or modulation transfer function. For those not in the field, that may just sound like a bunch of gibberish, however, it is a bit complicated. To give you an exact definition, our friends at the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), define modulation transfer function as, "the magnitude response of the optical system to sinusoids of different spatial frequencies," which, depending on how knowledgeable you are on the subject, could mean absolutely nothing. In fact, a modulation transfer function is another type of function; it’s part of an optical transfer function (another acronym, OTF). In an MTF, this particular transfer function looks at the lens of an optical system. MTF specifically focuses on the lens’s resolution and contrast/modulation. Used on various optical systems, an MTF is important because it shows an estimated performance of that optical system, and also shows what principle is considered the weakest link.
For a more in-depth look at modulation transfer function, SPIE outlines the process here.

Perhaps not relevant to your everyday life, these featured acronyms and their processes are used daily at Greenlight Optics. If these few acronyms have you intrigued and wanting to learn more about engineering or machining, that’s great! But if you weren’t agog about the topic, don’t worry; there won’t be an acronym pop quiz … anytime soon.

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Greenlight Optics is an optical systems engineering and manufacturing company specializing in projection displays, LED and laser illumination, imaging systems, plastic optics, and the integration of optics with electrical and mechanical systems.

The Greenlight Optics team brings a combined 250+ years of experience designing, developing, and manufacturing optical systems for consumer and professional markets.

We are passionate about enabling new optical applications and providing outstanding service to our customers.
Greenlight Optics is a 2016 Inc. 5000 honoree.  Number 2041 on the list of fastest growing private US companies.

July 2017: Greenlight Optics completes ISO 9001:2015 certification. Greenlight Optics has been ISO 9001 certified since 2014.

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