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Tutorial on ISO 10110 Optical Drawing Standard


Specifying optical components is a vital method for the optical designer to relay to the optician exactly what is expected to be produced. Without a standard method for describing the details of the part, there is no guarantee that the designer will end up with a part which matches his/her specifications.

For this reason, Geometrical Dimensioning & Tolerancing (GD&T) was devised as a method to explicitly describe nominal geometry and allowed variation for use in engineering drawings. In the United States, the most commonly encountered standard for GD&T (2D) is ANSI Y14.5 – 2009, although most machine shops will still be using Y14.5M-1994 as the current version is still very new. In the ISO system, GD&T is governed by the standards ISO 286-1 and -2:1988, ISO 1101:2005, ISO 5458:1998, and ISO 5459:1981. GD&T standards for data exchange and integration is governed by ISO 10303.

This tutorial assumes that the reader is familiar with basic GD&T practices, such that the focus of the tutorial may rest on the unique practices associated with describing optical components. As a mechanical part, an optical component can be described to some extent under the standards listed above. However, the unique aspects of optical components require additional standards to accurately describe the part to be made.

Optical Drawing Standards

ASME/ANSI Y14.18M is the American standard reference for specifying optical components. ANSI Y14.18M has its roots in the now-obsolete MIL-STD-34, and was written about the time that camera manufacturing ceased in the US. It is unclear what impact ASME Y14.18M has had on optical drawing standards in the US, except perhaps in its original form as MIL-STD-34. The ISO standards are much more commonly used in industry. ISO Technical Committee 172, Optics and Optical Instruments, writes the majority of standards for specifying optical components. The standards of most importance are: ISO 10110, Optics and optical Instruments – Preparation of optical drawings for optical elements and systems, is the primary reference for preparation of drawings for optical elements and systems. ISO 9211, Optical Coatings, is also very important. There is no American standard equivalent to ISO 9211. In addition to these, there are many ancillary standards which contribute to the specification and testing of optical components. A complete list is provided in Appendix A.

ISO 10110

ISO 10110 is a 13-part standard describing the preparation of drawings for optical elements and systems. Each part covers a different aspect of the optical drawing.

Table 1: Structure of ISO 10110-1 standard.

Table 1. Structure of ISO 10110-1 standard.

Part 1 covers the mechanical aspects of optical drawings that are specific to optics and not already covered in one of the ISO mechanical drawing standards. Important points to note are

  • The use of the metric system for linear dimensions is established, although the standard does allow use of the English system (and must be stated on the drawing). The use of the metric system per ASME Y14.5M will satisfy the ISO standards, except that a comma is used in the ISO standard instead a period to signify decimal point.
  • GD&T as described in the ISO system is used for presentation and dimensioning of optical components and assemblies. The ISO standards are very similar to ASME Y14.5M, but there are several important differences which should be reviewed and understood.
  •  First angle projection is used (as opposed to prevalent third-angle projection used in the US) for illustration of parts

Part 2 covers stress birefringence of the part. The indication in the drawing is 0/X, where X is the maximum birefringence in nm/cm. OPD due to stress birefringence is a*σ*K, where a is path length in cm, σ is residual stress in N/mm, and K is difference in photoelastic constants in 10-7 mm / N. A retardation > 20 nm / cm corresponds to a coarse anneal, and a retardation of < 10 nm/cm is a fine anneal.

Part 3 covers bubbles and inclusions. The callout is 1/NxA where N is the number of allowed bubbles or inclusions, and A is the length of the side of a square in mm. A2 is the area that the bubble or inclusion obscures. The obscured area may be sub-divided into smaller bubbles, provided that the obscured area is no larger than designated. A typical designation would be 1/3x.1 (3 bubbles allowed, each covering an area no larger than 0.12 = 0.01 mm2 ). This system is also used for designation of surface defects as covered in Part 7.

Part 4 covers imperfections due to inhomogeneity (variations in index of refraction from nominal) and striae (variations in index of refraction inside the glass part). The callout is 2/A;B, where A is the class number for inhomogeneity and B is the class for striae. See the tables below.

Table 2: Inhomogeneity Classes

Table 2. Inhomogeneity Classes

Table 3: Classes of striae

Table 3. Classes of striae

Part 5 describes the surface form tolerances for the optical surfaces. This is indicated on the drawing by 3/A(B/C). A is the maximum spherical sag error from test plate. A dash can be substituted for A where the radius tolerance is a dimension. B is the p-v maximum irregularity, and C is the maximum rotationally symmetric p-v figure error (best fit aspheric surface). The units are fringes (one half wavelength of 546.07 nm) and RMS specification for fringes can be used. For example, 3/4(1) implies the sag tolerance is 4 fringes and the p-v irregularity is no greater than 1 fringe. A callout of 3/-(2) implies a p-v irregularity of 2 fringes, and the radius of curvature is tolerance by the radius specification if the surface is spherical (untoleranced if plano).

Part 6 covers centering tolerances (centring). The callout is 4/α, where α is the angle between the datum and the surface. The indication is always the same for each surface, but the method of indicating the datum follows mechanical drawing practice. A polished surface can be a datum, and is often the best choice. See figures below for examples.

Figure 1: Centring tolerances example, ISO 10110-7

Figure 1. Centring tolerances example, ISO 10110-7

Part 7 covers surface imperfection tolerances. The callout is 5/NxA, and is similar to that of Part 3. Coating imperfections are preceded by a C, long scratches preceded by an L, and edge chips by an E. Examples are: 5/NxA; CN’xA’; LN”xA”, EA’”. A’” is the chip protrusion from the edge.

Part 8 covers the surface texture, and uses a texture symbol as the designator. This designates the quality of polish applied to the optical surfaces, and indicates ground surfaces (typically applied to edges). The following figure shows surface texture callouts.

Figure 2: Surface texture callouts from ISO 10110-8

Figure 2. Surface texture callouts from ISO 10110-8

Part 9 specifies surface treatment and coatings, and can be indicated one of two ways as shown in the figure below.

Figure 3: Indication that surface is to be coated.

Figure 3. Indication that surface is to be coated.

The clear aperture (referenced as the optically effective surface in ISO 10110) must be specified in the drawing. The box that identifies the coating requirements specifies them according to ISO 9211. A common example for a surface with transmission requirement greater than 0.9 for a wavelength range from 450 to 750 nm would be p=0.9for 450 ≤ λ ≤ 750 nm . The callout can also refer to a graph, with a callout stating “spectral reflectance as in graph xx for angle of incidence < 15°”. Graph xx would then be indicated elsewhere on the drawing. The coating could also be referred to as a manufacturer’s coating trade name, and would not need to be reproduced on the optical element drawing. The coating callout can also indicate a surface to be cemented.

ISO 10110-10 describes how to represent the data of the lens element in tabular form. While the ISO 10110 standard attempts to present optical components with a minimum amount of notes, the amount of information presented can become imposing. This is particularly true for simple lens elements, where a simpler method of presenting the information could be used to avoid ambiguity and errors in reading.

The tabular form of presenting data has precedent in the US. ASME Y14.18M presents optical data in tabular form as well, and MIL-STD-34 did so to some extent. The major optical design programs have adopted presenting ISO 10110 data in tabular form according to Part 10. An example of a lens drawing generated by Zemax is presented on the following page.

Note that the tabulated data is divided up into surfaces and glass material. The way in which the information is laid out is intuitive for how optical prescriptions and prescription layouts are interpreted. This layout will be the type most commonly encountered in industry.

Figure 4: ISO 10110 Tabulated Data Drawing layout.

Figure 4. ISO 10110 Tabulated Data Drawing layout.

Part 11 describes maximum allowable tolerances on features of the optical elements when those tolerances are not specifically called out on the optical drawing. This is different than how tolerances are handled in the US. Typically, an ASME Y14.5M drawing will have block (or shop) tolerances called out on the part, and these are in no way standardized in Y14.5M. Part 11 of ISO 10110 is an attempt to guarantee that no optical element will be manufactured to looser tolerances than specified in the standard unless specifically called out in the drawing.

Table 4 provides the features and the corresponding “default” tolerances called out in Part 11. It should be noted that the default tolerances given in this part are very loose and may lead to undesirable consequences if not carefully considered. Note also that the tolerances scale with the size of the part, a practice common in Europe but rarely encountered in the US.

Table 4: Toleranced data, ISO 10110-11

Table 4. Toleranced data, ISO 10110-11

Part 12 of ISO 10110 involves specifying aspheric surfaces. The procedures used to indicate aspheres on optical drawings are similar to those for ordinary surfaces, with a few exceptions. First, the type of surface should be indicated clearly. The radius on the face of the drawing is replaced by the word “asphere” or by the type of asphere for standard types. The equation which describes the surface should be given in a note. Slope tolerance and sampling length should be specified. Datums and datum systems are defined differently in ISO 10110-12 than they are in ISO 5459. The details of the datum system used in Part 12 stem from the fact that aspheric surfaces are frequently located mechanically during fabrication and in the optical system. If an alternate datum system is desired, a note on the drawing should be included saying, for example, “Indications of datums according to ISO 5459”.

Part 13 describes indications for laser power damage, or laser irradiation damage thresholds. The indication is given by 6/Hth; λ; pdg; fp; nTS x np for pulsed lasers, or 6/Eth; λ; nTS for continuous lasers. The 6/ code is associated with 3/, 4/, and 5/ codes on the drawing. “6/” is the indication for laser damage specification. λ is the wavelength of the laser. “pdg” is the pulse duration group number from ISO 11254, “fp” is the pulse repetition rate in Hz; “nTS” is the number of test sites on the sample surface, and “np” is the number of laser pulses applied to each site. The test level Hth is expressed in terms of maximum energy density (J/cm2) in the target plane, and Eth is the maximum power density (W/cm2) for continuous tests.

Examples of ISO 10110 standard drawings

Figure 5 is a ZEMAX-generated drawing which conforms to the ISO 10110 standard. This is a simple spherical convex-convex element which was the subject of several homework assignments in OPTI 521. In ZEMAX, this drawing is generated by selecting Analysis -> Layout -> ISO Element Drawing. Right click on the newly opened window and select the first surface of the element which is intended to be shown. In the “Show As..” menu, select singlet or doublet as appropriate.

ISO 10110 compliant drawing generated by ZEMAX

Table 4. Toleranced data, ISO 10110-11

Figure 5: ISO 10110 compliant drawing generated by ZEMAX

Figure 5. ISO 10110 compliant drawing generated by ZEMAX


This tutorial describes the basic premises of the ISO 10110 standard. This tutorial covers basic information about the different parts of the ISO standard, including feature callouts for simple optical components. It is by no means a substitute for a thorough understanding of the ISO 10110 standard. For a more complete reference, please refer to ISO 10110 Optics and Optical Instruments – Preparation of drawings for optical elements and systems: A User’s Guide, Second Edition by Ronald K. Kimmel and Robert E. Parks, or refer to the ISO 10110 standards themselves. In addition, SPIE regularly hosts ISO 10110 Drawing Standard short courses taught by David M. Aikens. For more information, see the website.


1. Ahmad, A., Handbook of Optomechanical Engineering, CRC Press, 1997

2. Yoder, P., Opto-Mechanical Systems Design, Third Edition, CRC Press, 2006


4. Sinclair Optics, Singelem.len – An ISO 10110 element drawing example, available at 

5. MIL-STD-34 (now obsolete) available for download at 

6. Kimmel, R. and Parks, R., ISO 10110 Optics and Optical Instruments, A User’s Guide, Second Edition, Optical Society of America, 2002.

7. Wang, D., English Jr., R., Aikens, D. M., Implementation of ISO 10110 Optics Drawing Standards for the National Ignition Facility, Optical Manufacturing and Testing III Proceedings Vol. 3782, 11 November 1999. Available in pdf form through SPIE at

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