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Firefighters Rely on Thermal Imaging Camera with Highly Customised IR Lens

AMS Technologies helps replacing Germanium lenses with specialist glass types: With a custom IR lens assembly, AMS Technologies enabled a leading supplier of thermal imaging cameras for fire-fighters to lower costs of production and increase image quality, even at very high temperatures.

Thermal imaging cameras* are used by firefighters and rescue services to see through dense smoke and navigate through a burning structure or area. Under very challenging conditions, a thermal imaging camera must provide an image as clear as possible with high resolution. With these features the thermal imaging camera is a vital tool for firefighters to very accurately locate people (low temperature objects), as well as determine the areas with the highest temperature (flame hot spots), in order to aim the firefighting activities to the right areas.

A leading supplier of integrated products and technologies for defence departments and federal, state and municipal government agencies worldwide has developed a new generation of thermal imaging cameras that provide high quality images over a wide range of temperatures in an extremely ruggedized and compact form factor. The cameras are also qualified to the very demanding standards of the United States NFPA (National Fire Protection Association). Custom infrared lenses, developed, designed and manufactured thanks to AMS Technologies, are playing a major role in this successful piece of technology.

Aspherical glass lenses help firefighters see through smoke

Conventional spherical IR lenses based on Germanium show a significant drop in transmission of light above +50 °C, and significant changes in focus with temperature. In addition to that, they are expensive and not suitable for the required production volume. So, the camera supplier was looking for different lens technologies or more precisely for a dedicated lens solution able to perform at very high temperatures while providing a clear image. At the same time, the lens had to fit very limited space constraints, and the manufacturing capabilities of the supplier had to allow for serial production at a reasonable target price.

AMS Technologies were chosen as a valued partner who could meet these demanding requirements, ramp up to volume production and achieve major cost savings. “AMS Technologies succeeded in meeting all goals and project requirements”, says Richard Clark, Sales Manager at AMS Technologies. “Our focus has been on continuous dialogue with the client during all project phases from the definition of the specifications, to the design discussion with the client’s engineering team and our manufacturing partner, through to the coordination of the quality tests performed by the QA teams of both the client and the lens manufacturer”.
Now the cameras are in volume production, AMS Technologies manages the delivery schedule, maintains the appropriate amount of buffer stock and works closely with the customer to make sure the production line is constantly fed with custom high precision thermal imaging lenses.

* A thermal imaging camera (also called thermographic or infrared camera) is a device that produces images using infrared radiation, similar to a common camera that forms an image using visible light. Instead of the 450–750 nm range of the visible light camera, infrared cameras operate in wavelengths as long as 14,000 nm (14 µm).