True Performance Never Fears Change. -It Defies The Status Quo.
**IIn 2003 Shane Santi founded Dream. He's been studying optics since 1994 but used his first front surface mirror telescope when he was 10 years old, around the same time he started building and launching rockets. He lives in the details because of his desire to know what makes things tick. He has an unquenchable thirst for not just knowledge but discovery. Each time a question is answered, knowledge is gained. Unique knowledge can lead to new approaches & solutions, which in turn leads to deeper questions & even higher-level understanding. It's at that point that discoveries start to be made. Those who continue to ask questions, even 20 years on, are the true subject matter experts. This specific drive can't be taught because it requires a fire that comes from within.
**Shane has used his passion for complex systems to create a company that focuses on installed performance, not promotional claims. In fact the often large gap between promotional claims and actual installed performance is the reason he formed Dream in 2003. Small details matter and affect the final outcome of a system. Optical systems are trying to achieve performance at fractions of a wavelength of light. Details matter. Understanding countless aspects of the system to unusual levels allows for abnormally high levels of optimization. Shane's own goal is to offer a small number of customers opto-mechanical structures, optics and full systems that are truly modern, with unrivaled installed performance, the highest throughput & the lowest possible maintenance.

"Hello Shane, I can't think of anyone who has delved as deeply into the mechanics of optical systems as you have."
- Dream customer
**Around the mid 1990's Shane read the first of many scientific papers (similar to 3rd paragraph Answer 2 links) that quantified the much larger than expected performance losses associated with solid, front surface optical mirrors. Low stiffness supporting structures are another historic area of performance loss. It became readily apparent that many providing optical mirrors & systems were making grossly over-reaching statements, since they ignored real-world factors. If these main factors were dealt with, installed performance could be noticeably better.

Shane formed Dream in 2003 for three main reasons;
1.) Combine the complimentary technologies of purpose-built carbon fiber & lightweight mirrors,
2.) Solve the century old problem of print-through in lightweight mirrors and
3.) Offer higher installed performance instruments that typically required big aerospace and/or government budgets, but at a much lower costs.
**A more mechanically & thermally stable total system can; slew faster, hold optical alignment tolerances & optical surfaces to a higher, more consistent performance level, in a dynamic mechanical (changing instrument angles) and thermal (changing ambient temperature), while being very close to thermal stealth. All of these, and many more, combine to produce instruments that break the pyschological norms of what can be expected out of an instrument & for a given aperture size. To believe these improvements have no benefit is the same argument critics of G.W. Ritchey made 100 years ago. Those without, will always try to minimize what they don't have, but desire. This can be; products, experience and/or knowledge.

"We shall look back and see how inefficient, how primitive it was to work with thick, solid mirrors, obsolete mirror-curves, ..."
- George Willis Ritchey 1928 JRASC, Vol. XXII, No. 9, November 1928.
**In the years just prior to starting Dream Shane recognized that he could take aerospace composite technology and optimize it specifically for the uniquely demanding thermal & mechanical tolerances of modern opto-mechanical & electro-optical instruments. The use of Invar rods to control spacing of optical components requires two distinct & physically disconnected structures instead of one. The more connections, the more likely stiffness is lost, jitter is created & mass is increased; the opposite of effeciency. Dream is making the instrument structures out of a specific carbon fiber matrix that is athermal to the mirrors. This provides incredibly stable optical performance of each mirror because the mirror mounts, backplates, etc., are athermal, eliminating the complexities that come with secondary "metered" structures and of flexure-based mirror mounts. There's no need for a metering structure because the whole structure matches the mirrors already, by design.
This focus on dealing with the source of the problems has led to Dream's athermal instruments which exhibit exceptional mechanical stiffness & consistency. This inherently produces an instrument with extremely low maintenance. They're ideal for remote/robotic installations. The extensive use of Dream's CF and CFSC in the mirror mounts, backplates, instrument tubes, mounting plates, lens barrels & lens spacers, etc., is ideal because they have;

****- low mass,
****low CTE (Coefficient of Thermal Expansion) and
****- extreme stiffness.

**In 2001-2002 Shane discovered that standard composite companies had little to no knowledge of optical systems, little to no knowledge of stiffness (not strength) and the extreme requirements that come with them. They also had little desire to work with such a demanding and difficult customer. This began a long series of unexpected duties that Dream would have to bring in house, in order to control and achieve the higher levels of performance that Shane knew were possible compared to the status quo. The benefit of the long years of R&D can be seen in Dream's in-house designed & produced stainless steel inserts, the extreme rugged performance of Dream's advanced composites (see CFSC screwdriver video), the low MSF errors of its engineered, lightweight zeroDELTA mirrors and countless features that have been developed for Dream's optical systems. Chasing real-world performance has to be driven by a person who understands why each parameter needs such critical control. Otherwise no company would invest the additional time, effort & expertise that is required to achieve higher level performance.
**As soon as space was leased in 2003 Shane designed the largest composite oven that Dream continues to use to this day; 12' wide, 6' deep, 6' high (interior dimensions). It was upgraded in 2013 after a decade of use. It can maintain a temperature tolerance of +/-1°F, which is one magnitude tighter than normal aerospace composite ovens. Dream's resin content is 20-40x more tightly controlled than standard pre-pregs from a decade ago and 2-4x more tightly controlled than current (2018) industry-leading space-qualified prepregs. This unusual attention to detail has led to Dream's actual and measureable performance gains.
**Companies are more recently using open-market carbon fiber in one or two components of opto-mechanical systems but only 5-10% of the "carbon fiber instrument" is actually carbon fiber. The other 90-95% remain metals; old technology wrapped in a shiny new bow by the marketing department. Look carefully and ask direct questions; what percentage of the structural weight is carbon fiber? Are all of the carbon fiber pieces load-bearing or are they in for cosmetics/sales? How many use sandwich core?

Dream's CFSC is used extensively in the structures Dream produces.

Dream consistently averages 95% carbon fiber and only 5% metals for the weight of the structures in its athermal instruments. (no optics)

**Shane began researching lightweight mirrors of all types 25 years ago; thin solid, solid conical, fused, frit-bonded, cast, etc. This was brought on by his interest in understanding numerous types of seeing, since seeing degrades installed system performance. "Seeing" can come from numerous sources and each source is often complex; mirror, telescope, observatory, ground effect, etc., are all individual forms of seeing that can do nothing but degrade the installed performance. Understanding each source to a deeper level has allowed Dream's products to break performance barriers and is the reason Dream is now designing ground-up facilities. There's no point in putting a high-performance instrument inside a facility that will never allow it to be used to its full potential.

One of Dream's 0.4m instruments outperformed all other instruments in a mulit-year NASA program, with some of those instruments being as large as 1m. This validates what G.W. Ritchey showed 100 years ago; quality of the total installed system matters far more than aperture, when the other systems are ignoring fundamental, centuries old thermal & mechanical problems.

Dream's full opto-mechanical systems attain superior mechanical and thermal stability by using industry leading zeroDELTA engineered, lightweight mirrors. This provides higher resolution, greater throughput, less down time and virtually no maintenance.

By design Dream's in-house technologies produce athermal telescopes.

**Dream's advanced composites offer extreme stiffness and produce an athermal instrument when combined with Dream's zeroDELTA engineered, lightweight mirrors. Customers also use Dream's CF & CFSC with zero-expanion mirror materials because they offer higher stiffness, lower mass and more closely match the mirror material than aluminum and steel structures. This can eliminate the need for complex flexures and metering systems, which bring their own errors to the mix. Dream's systems achieve a much higher level of performance day after day, year after year, while having the lowest maintenance. What many have considered as performance limits due to their local atmospheric seeing, is often traditional mirror seeing and low structure stiffness; century's old problems that Dream has addressed directly through knowledge & intelligent designs since 2003.


The above strut is a prime example of the substantial gains that Dream achieves with its optimized CFSC parts. The strut is 55.7" long, weighs only 1.85 pounds and is shown in a 3-point bend arrangement under 195 lbs of load.

biomedical backboard, rigid backboard, carbon fiber board
carbon fiber structures for space, carbon fiber space structures, cyanate ester, space qualified carbon fiber
rocketry, IRAC, Spaceport America Cup,

Other Carbon Fiber Parts

Dream's carbon fiber is also superb for zero-expansion mirror materials like Astro-Sittal, Clear-Ceram, fused silica, ULE, Zerodur, etc. Click below to see a carbon fiber structure for a 25" Cassegrain that used ULE mirrors.


Connection points in any opto-mechanical or electro-optical system are often the cause of a loss of stiffness & therefore performance. This page shows the pull-out strength of Dream's stainless steel inserts used within Dream CFSC parts.

"Your company does phenomenal work. There is a lot of thought and heart that goes into your products. Dream's engineering sets their lightweight mirrors apart from competitors. Your engineering goes beyond the lightweight aspect. You focus on actual performance!"

- Ted Kamprath

40+ years in professional optics, using everything from $1m & $1.5m test rooms to 144" Continuous Polishers. He's spent his career using the latest in technologies, methods, materials & science finishing precision optics.


Modern Optical Metrology

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