Specials Engineer | Thorlabs


Posted: 22-Feb-23

Location: Newton, New Jersey

Salary: Yearly


Private Sector

Work Function:


Preferred Education:

4 Year Degree

This position is for an individual with experience in optical and/or opto-mechanical manufacturing and design. Position entails the maintenance and growth of the custom products offering through supervision of their manufacture and the improvement of their processes. Additional responsibility for design and development of new products for the optics product line. The engineer will be responsible for managing projects from concept to finished. Although the location of the position is in Newton, NJ, from time to time it may be required to undertake duties at other Thorlabs locations.

Essential Job Functions include the following, but are not limited to:

  • Coordinate with Technical Support on lead times, pricing, and technical input for custom products, as well as providing them with updates such as possible delays.
  • Quoting of finished goods for specials produced by the OBU.
  • Working with team to ensure that drawings and documentation are correctly implemented.
    • This includes verifying BoMs and routes follow the correct manufacturing processes utilized.
    • Also establishing an understanding by all parties, from customer to vendor, of what is implied by relevant material.
  • Teaming up with Manufacturing to ensure best approach is utilized in generation of parts.
    • Includes implementation/supervision of necessary transition between departments.
  • Reviewing performance of specials and identifying systemic changes for improvement.
    • Minimizing wasteful processes and cost of goods sold while improving quality and product value.
    • Tracking profitability of group for reporting and accountability.
    • Quoting accurate lead-times and assuring on-time delivery.
  • Identifying new technologies and building a case for implementation.
    • This includes the utilization of suppliers external to the OBU.
  • Identifying OEM opportunities and getting it to OEM Team.
    • Staying involved with these and other large volume opportunities as a technical lead.
  • Recognizing opportunities that could benefit from some real Research and Development to expand specials capabilities then establishing them.
  • Converting specials with catalog viability to released products.
  • Ultimately responsible for quality of the part and on-time delivery.
  • Understanding manufacturing capacity and capability.
  • Monitoring OBU Specials Box, verifying customers receive a quality reply in a timely manner.
  • Working with other Business Units and Entities to assist in satisfying their optics needs.
  • Design new products to add to the Thorlabs online catalog including thin film coatings, lenses, polarization optics, prisms, gratings, opto-mechanics, collimators, isolators, spectroscopy accessories, microscopy sub-assemblies, etc.
  • Review customer source control drawings, specification control drawings and other applicable specifications to determine requirements and/or feasibility of the component. Communicate with customers to understand and define their needs.
  • Perform all necessary calculations such as optical simulation, thin film optimization, FEA/Stress/Thermal analysis, and polarization/retardance performance.
  • Prepare design proposals and documents.
  • Interact with production personnel to define and solve manufacturing/design issues and implement cost reduction ideas with regard to company products.
  • Assists drafting, lab testing, manufacturing, quality, and planning as required.
  • Perform liaison function between engineering team and all manufacturing operations for any related issues, problems, or improvements.
  • Work with the quality department to define problem areas and implement product improvements based on customer repair/rejection concerns.
  • Participate in engineering and general design reviews as required.
  • Prepare technical data such as qualification test procedures, acceptance test procedures, reports, component maintenance manuals, etc.
  • Interact with vendors and purchasers concerning supplied and proposed components.
  • Responsible for all changes and problems related to assigned product lines.
  • Acts as technical expert for the company for both internal and external customers.
  • Coordinate as required with other internal groups including Sales, Accounting personnel, Fabrication, Technical Marketing, Technical Support, OEM Team, Management, Planning, and Assembly.
  • Advise supervisor of work status, workload, problems and progress as related to work assignments.
  • Responsible for entire product life cycle.
  • Monitor and analyze assigned competitors’ trends, acquisitions, and product lines with the intent of reporting to the group weekly and posting to internal forum when applicable.
  • Keep current with newest applications, products, and manufacturing techniques within the industry. Share, discuss, and collaborate while looking for opportunities to implement.

Physical Activities:

The employee must be capable of occasionally moving objects up to 25 pounds Employees may come in contact with but not limited to acetone and epoxy. Their work environment may be noisy at times. Employees must wear appropriate clothing and protective equipment such as booties, lab coats, glasses and gloves expected of particular locations.

Thorlabs values its diverse environment and is proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified individuals will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identify or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age or veteran status. Job descriptions are not intended as and do not create employment contracts. The organization maintains its status as an at-will employer. Employees can be terminated for any reason not prohibited by law.



  • Industry experience and related coursework in the field of optics and photonics


  • Bachelor’s degree in Optical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physics or a related engineering disciplines. A Master’s degree is desirable.

Specialized Knowledge and Skills:

  • Experience with SolidWorks, CAD, or other modeling software.
  • Proficiency in a computer language such as Visual Basic, C++, Python, Labview
  • Familiarity with optical modeling software, specifically Zemax and TFCalc, but also relevant CODE V, Essential MacLeod, Filmstar, OSLO, etc.
  • Demonstrated technical background and hands on experience in such fields as optics, opto-mechanical design, laser optics, polarization, microscopy, and telecommunications. Hands on experience with optics including alignment, measurement, and testing
  • Knowledge of current optical design, fabrication, assembly, and test techniques
  • Strong project Management skills with a deep sense of ownership
  • Strong ability to take initiative
  • Demonstrated innovation
  • Flexibility/adaptability in a fast-paced & dynamic environment
Employer Logo

About Thorlabs

Founded in 1989, Thorlabs seeks to accelerate the forward movement of scientific discovery and advancement! As a vertically integrated manufacturer of photonics components, instruments, and systems, our vast product portfolio includes over 20,000 items, ranging from optics and optomechanical positioning components to imaging systems, many of which are customer inspired. Photonics is the foremost technology driving innovation in science and engineering. As the number of technological innovations has grown, Thorlabs has extended its core competencies in an effort to play an ever increasing role serving the Photonics Industry at the research end, as well as the industrial, life science, medical, and defense segments. Headquartered in Newton, NJ, Thorlabs has grown to over approximately 2,300 employees with manufacturing and sales offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Sweden, Japan, China, and Brazil. As light-based technologies push into new markets, Thorlabs plans to enter early with the products and services required to ensure the ultimate success of our customers.

Connections working at Thorlabs

Apply Here: https://jobs.physicstoday.org/jobs/rss/18238270/specials-engineer