Optical Glass Opthalmic Glass Fibre Optics

Code No:TMS165Price:Rs20Rs2600/-Category:Materials & Chemicals: Materials


Year of Publication : 2001

Table Of Contents : INTRODUCTION- PRODUCT APPLICATION PROFILE: Optical Glass, Ophthalmic Glass, Optical fibre GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY TRENDS: Glass Fabrication, Component Production Technology, Status – India CURRENT WORLD MARKET STATUS: Optical Glass, Ophthalmic Glass, Optical fibre CURRENT MARKET STATUS – INDIA: Optical glass, Current Consumption, Current Export Market, Ophthalmic Glass, Current Consumption, Current Export Market, Optical Fibre, Current Consumption CURRENT INFRASTRUCTURE: Supply Infrastructure ,Optical Component Manufacturing Facilities, Imports, Support Infrastructure, Market Infrastructure and Practices, User Attitudes and Perceptions.FUTURE MARKET PROSPECTS: Optical Glass, Fibre Optics,Ophthalmic Glass TECHNOLOGY EVALUATION: Optical / Ophthalmic Glass, Fibre Optics, Application viability, Manufacturing viability PROJECT PREFEASIBILITY PROFILE: Project prefeasibility of optical glass plant, Project prefeasibility of ophthalmic glass plant, Prefeasibility Assessment of optical glass component processing facilities,Feasibility Assessment of optical fibre unit RECOMMENDATIONS AND IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES

  • Study Objectives
  • Application Status
  • Global Technology Trends
  • Technology Status India
  • World Market Status
  • Current Market Status India
  • Current Supply Status in the Country
  • Technology Viability Assessment
  • Recommended Action Plan
  • Future Direction
  • Strategies
  • Investment, Benefit Analysis of the proposed plan of action

Study Objectives

To determine all India market for optical glass, ophthalmic glass and optical fibre with a view to work out a broad techno economic feasibility for setting up viable manufacturing facilities in the country in light of global trends and Indian infrastructure constraints.

Application Status

Major applications of optical glass in the country include scientific and educational instruments, analytical instruments, photographic cameras, projection equipment, office equipment, astronomical instruments survey instruments, magnifiers, testing and measuring instruments, eye-precision instruments and medical / diagnostic equipment. Defence is the major end user of optical glass in the country for applications including telescopes, binoculars, periscopes, night vision equipment, sighting systems for guns, laser range finders, observation devices, protective glasses, night goggles, articulated sights, optical sights, (for helicopters, tanks, stand alone systems) anti aircraft sights, gunners/drivers sights etc. Major applications of fibre optics is in the sector of, telecommunication. Other applications include computer networking, CATV’s and medical / process control instruments. Other emerging applications are in military use for guided missiles, surveillance cameras and avionics etc.


Global Technology Trends:

  • Optical Glass

Developments are going on in the field of improved fabrication methods, new materials development and component production.

In the materials, researchers continue for optical glasses with extended transmission in the infrared or ultraviolet spectrum, improved mechanical properties and ease of fabrication, lighter weight, better chemical durability and composed of less costly and less hazardous raw materials.

In fabrication most of the production of common varieties of optical glass required in lower quantities (upto 1000 ltr capacity) currently in the world is still through ceramic pot route. While for very small quantities of high precision glasses the preferred route is now the platinum crucible route. The corrosion in this process is almost negligible and the quality of molten glass is excellent. The process is often restricted to cases where expensive raw materials are employed but in limited quantity. Corning glass works has developed a revolutionary new manufacturing methods for the mass production of perfect quality optical glass using continuous furnace. Through precise temperature control in the various sections of the continuous process, it is now possible to produce optical glass virtually free from bubbles and almost homogeneous over long periods of time.

In fabrication two newer methods viz sol-gel method and vapour deposition have elvolved sufficiently to make optical glass that do not involve melting. In SOIL-GEL process there are challenges that need to be resolved to make it a commercially viable technology for bulk optics applications. The vapour deposition method revolutionised fibre optic communications by providing ultra pure materials. The main barriers to the use of vapour deposition techniques are largely economic.

  • Ophthalmic Glass

Developments over the last few years have revived the traditional crown glass with a refractive index of 1.6 being the new standard in place of 1.523. There has been continued progress in the field of high index glasses. There has been total elimination of 30 and 35 constrigence ratings for 1.7 lenses. There are special prescriptions with index 1.8. Since 1960s there has been a marked increase in the use of plastic materials for ophthalmic applications though significant optical glass is still used for ophthalmic applications.

Among the new emerging technologies that will affect the demand for optical devices in future is the micro optic electro-mechanic technology which provides a powerful tool for miniaturisation of mechanical systems into dimensional domains tht is not easily accessible by the conventional machining.

  • Optical Fibres

The main developments in the materials in recent years has been the introduction and successful demonstration of extremely long distance repeater less fibre links using rare earth doped fibre amplifiers.

Optical fibre manufacturer based on process of drawing fibre from the glass-preform is a computer controlled process because of the high level of precision involved. Four different perform manufacturing processes are currently in commercial use. The most widely used process is the modified chemical vapour deposition (MCVD0, Outside vapour deposition process (OVD) Vapour axial deposition (VAD) process and low-temperature plasma chemical-vapour deposition (PCVD0 process.


Technology Status India

  • Optical Glass

In India Central Glass and Ceramic research institute in 1960 succeeded in establishing a pilot plant based on ceramic pot technology (batch process). Over the years it has produced and supplied 28 types of optical glasses. Apart from this certain varieties of radiation resistant window glasses (RSW) have also been developed and commercialised now by BOGL / CGCRI. The technology offered by CGCRI is considered good except that of pot development, where the rejection rates are higher and consumption of consumable is considered high compared to international levels. The quality consistency of the glass is also lacking. The current yield levels for optical glasses are 20 to 25% against international levels of 45% and above.

  • Ophthalmic Glasses

The Bharat Ophthalmic Glasses Limited went in for production of ophthalmic glass way back in 60s with Russian batch process technology. The technology involves the use of ceramic pots which are also manufactured in the plant. The operational viability of this plant has remained questionable right from its inception and the plant could never achieve its rated capacity. Experts have attributed this primarily to non availability of suitable clay in India and party due to non-availability / poor quality of coke oven gas. Consequently, the yield of glass has been varying from 25% to as low as 15% against DPR norm of 45%. To the credit of BOGL, it may be mentioned that they have been varying the product mix to keep the plant running at lower losses by developing new products like flint buttons, optical glasses and radiation shielding windows (RSWs) for nuclear research sector and hospitals.

  • Optical Communication Fibre:

In optical fibres there is complete reliance for foreign technology both for preform fabrication and fibre drawing. R&D work however continues in various labs to develop Graded index multimode fibre conforming to CCITT specification for short haul applications.

  • Other R&D level work

At CGCRI planned effor thave been maintained on the basic research of laser glasses, filter glasses viz. Visible opaque near UV transmitting filter, visible opaque near infrared transmitting filter, Mid infrared transmitting filter, Welder’s glass, Bronze glass, heat absorbing glass, signal glass, Blue filters, etc. There are number of premier research institute in the country working in various R&D projects including optical communicaiton, holography storage and optical data processing. Also optical fibre as a transmission media seems to be on better footing. However the development of opto electronic components like modulators, direction couplers, optical logic systems, lenses, sensors, storage devices etc is on a very low key.


World Market Status

  • Optical Glass

The current World total production of optical glass is estimated to be approximately 20,000 tons valued at roughly 800 US$. US is the largest consumer of optical glass in the world accounting for almost 30%. The market for optical components however is assessed at almost $5 bn/yr. The requirement for optical glasses are being met by handful of companies from USA, Germany and Japan. The major companies include Schott, Hoya, Ohara, Pilkington, Corning, Sumita and couple of others from Russia and Czechoslavia. The maximum share of the market is with Schott Germany accounting for around 32% of the total market. Organisations like Schott and Hoya market around 250 types of glasses to meet the varied needs of the industry.

  • Ophthalmic Glass

The current world total marker for ophthalamic glasses is estimated to be around 54800 tons valued at approximately $280 mn. The demand is growing at 4 to 5% annually. Of the total demand the developed countries account for 62% of the total demand in quanity and 75% by value. Plastics is making significant breakthroughs internationally accounting for almost 30% share of the total market and growing. The demand for ophthalmic lenses is close to 1 bn pair of lenses / yr assessed at around $800 mn sales world wide. There are 4 to 5 leading suppliers of quality ophthalmic glass in the world with the largest share being with Schott / Desag followed closely by Corning France who had pioneered the mass production technology for these glasses.

  • Optical Fibre

The total world optical fibre demand (1995) is estimated at $2.5 bn equivalent to 22 mn fibre kms. The global growth rates have overaged around 23% globally in 1996. Three major factors contributing to the growth of fibre-optic materials include the growth of data communications and networking of computers, a breakthrough in installing fibre in the local loop and demand for simultaneous transmission of dta voice and video. Single-mode fibres for terrestrial applications dominated at 90% of the total optical fibre market. North America with 9.8 mn fibre kms annual demand had the highest share followed by Asia Pacific at around 7 mn fibre kms. The demand of fibre optics components world wide is currently (1996) estimated at $6.5 bn. Ast the cable routes get shorter, more components – transmitters, receivers, connectors will be needed. The value of optical fibres in 1997, combined with fibre – optic transceivers and connectors, etc. will exceed $10 billion world wide.


Current Market Status India

  • Optical Glass

The total current (1996) all India consumption of raw optical glass is estimated tot be around 53.6 tons valued at Rs.579 lakhs. In the case of optical glass of the total 53.6 tons of consumption, almost 12.2 tons comes fitted in the imported equipment nd instruments. As such the current consumption of optical glass in the country is estimated at 41.4 tons including all types valued at Rs.432 lakhs. The consumption of RSW (Radiation shielding window) category glasses which are part of the requirement is currently assessed at 4.8 tons /yr.

Optical glass even though is required in small quantities is consumed in number of varieties. In India around 23 categories of optical glasses are in use out of which 16 categories are in common use.

The top 8 category of glasses quantity wise consisting of borosilicate crown, light barium crown, dense flint, extra dense flint and double extra dense flint, Dense barium crown, crown and lanthum crown. They together account for 66% of the total consumption. It may be mentioned here that for certain less demanding applications like for educational equipment ophthalmic glass (270 super white-Desag) and even window glasses are being used in place of optical glass. The total such quantity works out to almost 4 tons/yr.

A total of more than 60 types of glass may be in actual use ranging between refractive index of 1.487 to 1.805 and abbe number of 25.5 to 70.4. Around 20 glass types drawn from 11 to 12 categories are used frequently having consumption of more than 500 kg / yr. Around 24 glass types drawn from 20 categories are demanded less frequently with consumption ranging between 100 to 500 kgs / yr. Top 20 glass types account for almost 65.5% of the total optical glass consumption (excluding RSW Category), with next 24 types accounting for another 16%. Thus 81% (29.6 tons) of the optical glass consumption in the country is accounted by 44 types of glasses.

Defence individually is the single largest segment for optical glass consumption in the country accounting for 39% requirement by value and 37% by quantity. The civil sector which otherwise has emerged as the largest consumption segment (46% by quantity and 37% by value) consists of around 700 consumers (mainly instrument and equipment manufacturers). Around 3 to 4 instrument categories viz. Microscopes, survey instruments, projection equipment and office equipment account for 71% of the total requirement of optical glass in civil sector.

The current exports both direct and indirect is estimated at 3.22 tons valued at Rs.2.57 crores of optical finished components. The main export destinations of Indian optical glass both direct and indirect are USA and U.K.

  • Ophthalmic Glass

Total current (1996) consumption of ophthalmic glasses in the country including all types is estimated at 2784 tons valued at s.34.2 crores. The replacement segment accounts for the major shar (78%) of the total demand. It is estimated that in India almost 44% of the ophthalmic glass in quantity and 22% in value used is spurious in nature. Almost 16.5% of ophthalmic glass by quantity and 47% by value is high quality glass. The total exports have been erratic but have varied in the region of 70 tons / yr of finished lenses worth Rs.9 crores.

  • Optical Fibre

Currently the optical fibre cable is being consumed in India mostly for long distance telecommunication applications. The current (1996) demand for optical fibre works out to 1,21,650 fibre kms /yr valued at Rs.42.57 Crores / yr. The consumption of preform works out to 4.2 tons / yr valued at Rs.29.2 crores / yr.


Current Supply Status in the Country:

Indigenous Supply:

  • Raw Optical Glass:

There are currently 2 manufacturers of optical glass in the country namely Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute and BOGL. Only 22% of the country’s requirement of optical glass is being currently met by indigenous sources.

  • Ophthalmic Glass / Blanks:

The Bharat Ophthalmic Glass Limited, (BOGL) a Government of India Undertaking is the only organisation having manufacturing facilities for proper ophthalmic glass in the form of flint buttons in India. In India there is also a huge supply of poor grade ophthalmic glass (basically sheet glass / LOB). The supply normally hovers in the region of 1000 to 1200 tons / yr in the country. Due to high usage of spurious glass, the country is able to meet 47% of its requirement in quantity and 30% by value of raw ophthalmic blanks. However if spurious glass is eliminated then the country is hardly able to meet 2% of its total requirement in quantity.


  • Optical Fibre

With recent setting up of 1 million km of optical fibre plant by sterlite industries in the country, the current production is in a position to fully able to meet the entire domestic requirement. In fact the current capacity of 1.5 mn fibre kms is sufficient to meet domestic cable requirements for the next 5 to 6 years.

  • Optical Glass Components:

The total sales value of optical components like lenses, beam splitters, optical windows, optical flats, mirrors, prisms, wedges, graticules, reflectors etc works out to Rs.31 crores / yr currently equivalent to 34.4 tonnes of raw material processed. It is estimated that currently there may be 100 processors of optical glass in the private sector and 6 in the public sectors.

  • Ophthalmic Lenses:

Ophthalmic glass processing is virtually a house hold industry in India and is mostly in the unorganised sector. There may be a total of around 30000 processors in the country predominantly having manual operations. The total production of ophthalmic lenses in the country is estimated at 2450 tons / yr. valued at Rs.90 crores of components. There are few large processing facilities in the country with sophisticated processing facilties located in Bombay and Goa.

  • Imports
  • Optical Glass

Imports currently meets 78% of the requirement (32.3 tons) of optical glass in the country. Japan is by far the largest supplier of optical glasses and components to the country. It accounts for 37% of the country’s import of optical glass and 31% of components by value. Japan is followed by USA and Germany

  • Ophthalmic Glass

Imports currently meets 53% (1516 tons) of the requirement of ophthalmic glass in the country. Out of these 1106 tons (s.18.65 crores) is in the form of Ophthalmic blanks and 410 tons in the form of finished lenses. The imports have been growing at hefty 20% in real terms annually. This is higher than the growth of the demand in the country.

  • Future Market:
  • Optical Glass

The future expected growth will average around 9% annually in real terms. The demand from new areas from civil sector will constitute at the most 5% of the total market in near future. The expected domestic market between 1998-2002 is estimated at 284 tons and between 2003-2007 at 430 tons. In addition there will be major one time requirements for RSW Glasses from defence for the main battle tanks (20 tons in 2000 AD) and 120 tons from Nuclear sector (commencing 2000 AD spread over 4 to 5 years) In future there will be competition from new specialised varieties of glasses in sophisticated areas and plastic optics for routine applications. Export market is estimated to be 50 tons for combined 5 yrs period of 1998-2002 and 130 tons for period 2003-2007. The total demand for terminal yr 2002 and 2007 for all glass including new areas is estimated at 115 and 164 tons respectively.

  • Optical Fibre

This sector is expected to record a very high growth rate of the order of 23% per yr in india. Future high speed technologies and applications like basic telecom services, fiber-in-local-loop, cable TV, and value added services, coupled with low entry barriers (Rs.40 crore for a 4,000 kms optical fibre cable manufacturing plant) will see the demand and supply of OFTC multiplying. The expected future demand of optical fibre in the yr 2001-02 is estimated at 8.9 lakh fibre kms / yr and 22 km pa by 2006-07.

  • Ophthalmic Glass

Overall 12% real growth per yr is anticipated over the next 5 to 10 yrs. The expected demand for better quality (including superior quality) ophthalmic glass (currently imported) is expected to grow at 17% annually to reach a volume of 3400 tons by the end of next 5 ys. The current share of 44% of spurious glass is expected to come down to 30% within next 5 yrs. The superior quality imported lenses out of the above is expected to grow at 14% per yr.

  • Export Market Prospects

India today has a meagre 0.06% share of the total global trade in optical glass components. There is a wide scope of increasing the market share in the export markets. According to our conservative assessment the future export market for optical glass components should double every 3 yr. The market is forecasted to be around 10 tons by 2000 and 30 tons by 2005 AD. Similarly for ophthalmic glass the export market can easily increase from current 70 tons of components to atleast 700 tons in the next 5 yrs to record a turnover of Rs.90 crores. In optical fibres India is ideally placed with their excess capacity to meet the requirements of Asia pacific region which is the world’s fastest growing market for optical fibre cables. A 5% share of this market will ensure a sale of 1 million fibre kms valued at Rs.340 crores / yr. by 2002.


Technology Viability Assessment

For common varieties of optical glass the most viable option will be the upgraded ceramic pot technology. In case of ophthalmic glasses the continuous process technology is currently rated as the most viable technology option. The platinum crucible technology is the most viable option for special grade optical glasses required in very high purity levels which are normally not possible by any other process.

  • Optical Glass:

A broad viability assessment of various project options suggests attractive investment opportunity for small size plant with capacity of 20 tpa (Rs.3.5 crores investment). The product mix will include fast moving varieties of optical glasses and high sales ealisation RSW Category glasses required for strategic industries. A detailed viability analysis on 10 yrs period indicates attractive ROI of 33%.

  • Ophthalmic Glass:

The project for setting up 1000 tpa ophthalmic blank based on continuous process indicates attractive return. The estimated investment may range between Rs.50 to 67 crores. The major constraint is the acquisition of closely guarded technology.

  • Optical Glass:

The viability for setting up component processing units both optical and ophthalmic glass is very attractive.

  • Optical Fibre:

In optical fibre there is large scope of creating additional viable manufacturing facilities with foreign know-how and equipment essentially to exploit export markets.


Recommended Action Plan

The recommended action plan is based on a detailed SWOT analysis and discusses the future directions, steps and strategies for each product and the resultant cost benefit analysis of the proposed action plan.

Future Direction

Greater focus on optical component design, development and application engineering,

Concentrate on value addition areas like optical component manufacturing.

Striving for self sufficiency in optical fibres and ophthalmic glass through manufacturing. of both optical fibres and ophthalmic blanks and components in the country.

Continuing researches in the area of optical glass till it becomes vialble to set up a commercially and technically viable manufacturing facility.



The proposed strategies are in the areas of Policy Framework, Manufacturing, Design and Development, R&D Industry interaction, Research and Development, Export promotion, Manpower Training, Awareness programmes, Financing, Legislation and Standards and testing.

Investment, Benefit Analysis of the proposed plan of action:

The Table A gives the detailed Cost Benefit analysis of the proposed action plan.

Table A Expected Cost Benefit Analysis -By 2002 (Next 5 yrs)


Activity –till 2001 Targets – till 2001 Investments – till 2001 Benefits – 2001

Optical Glass

Creation of small facility for manufacture of optical glass



Setting up small facility for manufacturing select types of fast moving optical / RSW glasses with capacity of 20 tpa


RS.3.5 crores




Saving of app. Rs.2.5 crores / yr of foreign exchange on account of imports


Creation of optical component processing facility

Meet 100% internal requirement of all classical components

Achieve 50% import substitution of optical component / sub assemblies

Increase share in international market from 0.06% to 0.3%

Rs.32 crores on creating new facilities and expansion of existing facilities all over the country

Rs.32 crores / yr. of additional capacity will be created to meet the future component requirements

Expected exports will grow from Rs.2 crores to Rs.16 crores by 2001

Continued research on improving ceramic pot technology at CGCRI Should be able to come out with technology with improved yields and better end product quality Rs.1-2 crore investment by CGCRI Expected imports of components / subassemblies to come down by Rs.60 to 70 lakh / yr.

Ophthalmic Glass

Creation of atleast 1 facility for manufacturing 1000 tpa of quality ophthalmic glass in the country continuous process technology



Substitute 50% of the total imports of rough ophthalmic blanks




Rs.65 crores one time investment for ophthalmic blank facility





Rs.30 crores annual saving in foreign exchange on imports of ophthalmic blanks.

Creation of atleast 6 to 8 new facilities for manufacturing ophthalmic lenses both for domestic and export markets

Substitute at least 70% of the total imports of ophthalmic lenses currently assessed at 8 mn pairs / yr growing at 12% pa

Achieve 1% share (15 mn pairs) of the world trade from the current level of 0.12% (1.4 mn pairs) share

Rs.50 crores investment for creating additional facilities for manufacturing 20 mn pair of lenses / yr


Rs.37 crores saving / yr in foreign exchange on import of lenses

Rs.80 crores export earnings / yr


Optical Fibre

Develop additional facilities to exploit export opportunities in Asia pacific


Meet 5% share of the Asia Pacific market by creating additional facilities to an extent of 4 lakh fibre kms capacity over the next 5 yrs.


Rs.140 crores of one time investment


Achieve 1 mn fibre kms / yr of exports (Rs.340 crores / yr) by 2001