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Möller-Wedel Optical: An insight into high-precision optical measuring systems

Möller-Wedel Optical’s headquarters in Wedel

Möller-Wedel Optical’s headquarters in Wedel, Northern Germany - the town where it was founded 160 years ago (Credit: Möller-Wedel Optical)

Möller-Wedel Optical has brought high-precision optical measuring systems to industries as diverse as mechanical engineering, automotive, semiconductors industry, film camera service, and calibration and research laboratories for more than 50 years, but the company’s heritage reaches back much further

Its origins actually date back as far as 1864, when founder Johann Diedrich Möller began an apprenticeship under Dr. Hugo Schröder, a renowned optician based in Hamburg. Over the span of a few months, Möller became proficient in glass manufacturing and processing techniques that can be applied to create optical components such lenses and prisms that find applications in devices such as microscopes. The next step for Möller was to build his own microscope, and by the age of 20, he had established a business, operating out of his parents’ house in Wedel, Northern Germany.

A family business, Möller’s son, Hugo Möller joined as an apprentice in 1897 and the business steadily grew. When Johann Diedrich Möller passed away in October 1907, Hugo was well equipped to take on the running of the business, and a few years later, he had increased the import of its high-precision optical measuring systems to other European countries.

Then known as JDM, the company became limited in 1925, following a successful patent for a penta-prism that was designed to minimise the size of binoculars. The limited company was named J. D. Möller Optische Werke GmbH. A period of technological and product development followed, with the launch of the first measurement technology from the firm, in the goniometer spectrometer, and later, the development of its first modular autocollimators.

The introduction of the interferometer

The 1970s saw the business expand, with the acquisition of the measuring instruments division of Askania, allowing the incorporation of interferometers, spherometers, test tubes, and goniometers, while the 1980s was when the first interferometer with image evaluation and a prototype of an electronic autocollimator were developed.

In 1989, the company became integrated into the Haag-Streit Group, headquartered in Köniz, Switzerland, and in 2000, Möller-Wedel Optical was founded as a subsidiary of Möller-Wedel, in order to focus on expanding the market position of Möller measuring instruments.

Throughout the 2000s into the 2020s, Möller-Wedel Optical has remained at the forefront of innovation, developing and launching products such as the ELCOMAT 3000 Electronic Autocollimator, ELCOMAT 5000, and motorised collimators for the automotive industry. The company also became a DAkkS/ILAC accredited calibration laboratory and developed specialised tools such as the CIFOS centring measuring device and cine autocollimator for film camera rental and service.

Möller-Wedel Optical today

Today, Möller-Wedel Optical is well known throughout the world for its high-precision optical measuring systems. Dirk Stenzel, Product Manager at Möller-Wedel Optical, offered an insight into some of the company’s biggest markets: “The machining industry has quite a large base for us at the moment. OEMs in this industry use our autocollimators for positioning measurement of machining devices. The optical industry is also an important market for us. Customers use our products for optical component testing, measuring lenses, angles, optical wedges and mirrors and surface inspection.”

Möller-Wedel Optical’s range of optical measurement equipment has found additional  applications in automotive, for the inspection of windshields, as well as quality control and assembly of automotive camera lenses. The company has long had a presence in research and academia, and it has even made its way into the film and camera market, providing test and measurement equipment that has been specially designed for use in the camera rental industry, and for manufacturers of high-quality film and camera lenses.

However, the firm has likewise stayed true to its roots. As well as remaining in Wedel, where it was founded 160 years ago, Möller-Wedel Optical’s biggest market is still the optical industry. Says Stenzel: “The largest number of our products are in the optical and machining industries,” he says. “Precision angle metrology is really important in the development of optical products. Even a small deviation in an angle could have an impact performance. Angle measurements are also used to make sure that optical components are accurately aligned and measured, such as mirrors and prisms, to maintain the integrity of the optical system.”

Serving 40 countries across Asia, Australia and North America

This strategy has proven to be an effective one, as the company has grown and evolved to become renowned across multiple industries and geographical markets for its high-precision optical measuring systems. Today, Möller-Wedel Optical has trusted distributors in more than 40 countries across Asia, Australia and North America, as well as throughout Europe. According to Stenzel, this success is a natural progression, and represents how the firm operates. He says: “Möller-Wedel Optical’s growth has been an organic, stable growth. We see highly precise angle measurement as a niche market, and we are specialised in that niche. The people who work at Möller-Wedel Optical are experts in optics and optoelectronics, optical metrology, physics and precision engineering. We’re stable, that’s the core of the company.”

Stenzel is well placed to understand what sets Möller-Wedel Optical apart, having held a number of different roles in the optical industry, from precision engineering to optical engineering. On working for Möller-Wedel Optical, he says: “It’s a really a living company, so you really see what we are doing. The great thing is that we have all the opportunities of a small company, so we can really react to customer questions.”

Looking to the future, Möller-Wedel Optical is going to continue the development of its optical measurement solutions according to customer requirements and needs, and there are some areas emerging that could potentially become big for the company. Stenzel reveals: “In terms of the technology, the ability to deduce wavefronts from angle measurements is very exciting, in order to really get more information from angle measurements than you’d think of. We’re also noticing that the semiconductor industry is experiencing growth, which we are thrilled to see, and we will continue to be a reliable partner for customers in this area.” 

Where to meet with Möller-Wedel Optical

Möller-Wedel Optical will exhibit at the Control trade fair for quality assurance in Stuttgart from 23-26 April.  You can find then in Hall 10, at booth #1611.1. The firm will also bring its optical measuring and test technology to Optatec, the international trade fair for optical technologies in Frankfurt from 14-16 May. Come and visit the team to see how they could help you with your latest project in hall 3.1, at booth #810.  

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