BMI Surplus Blog

Optical Tables 101 - Via BMI Surplus!

Optical Tables are used to control vibration and are used in support systems for engineering and manufacturing, as well as in laser and optics experiments....

These Vibration Isolation Table surfaces are designed to keep vibrations from changing the relative position of optical elements. The optical table or breadboard surface must be rigid so the alignment of optical elements is kept constant over time.  It is most important to maintain an area that is vibration free. Optical tables have a rigid structure and effective vibration damping features, enabling excellent vibration isolation.  The optical table surface is commonly referred to as a vibration isolation platform and has a surface that is typically stainless steel with rectangular grid of threaded holes.  The optical table is the foundation where experiments begin!  On top of this piece of stability you will attach your Optical Mounts & Fixtures, Bench Carriers & Rails, Optical Stages and Optical Components.  A good foundation will almost always ensure a positive result!

Optical Tables and Breadboards can be very heavy. Some weigh as much as several tons.

These larger tables require the proper apparatus and instructions to set up safely.  Smaller optical table tops may be lifted by groups of individuals in good physical condition. Be sure to act safely when putting your optical table in place.  It it essential that you have enough healthy persons to assist with this project.

When setting up an optical table one must also select  Optical Table Legs or an Optical Table Base to support the Optical Table.  There are several different types of Vibration Isolation Legs & bases from which to choose from.

  •  Pneumatic or Air Isolators enable a high level of accuracy when re-leveling or repositioning the surface after a disturbance.
  • Pneumatic bases are considered the best in terms of achieving optimal vibration isolatioPassive Isolators deliver a moderate degree of stability. They are often designed to remove floor vibrations in the 10Hz to 50 Hz frequency range.
  • Rigid or Static Optical Table Supports are used primarily when the application and environment do not require the optical table to be isolated from vibrations. These supports basically hold the table up, enabling a flat surface on which build an application. Some companies manufacture Rigid Optical Table supports than can be upgraded at a later date.
  • Optical Table Tie-Bar Systems improve integration and mobility. Adding casters to such systems will allow for ease in relocating an optical table.

BMI Surplus is the source that many of the major research institutions and corporations around the country have come to rely on for used optical tables of good value and high quality for optics requiring rigid support and vibration isolation.

We have a large inventory and variety of used and new Optical Tables & Breadboards, Optical Table Legs & Vibration Isolation Bases & Optical Support options available at BMI Surplus for purchase.
Our experienced optical equipment technicians are standing by ready to help you find what you need for your optical table setup.  Feel free to give us a call at 781-871-8868 or Email us at

12% Optical Table Legs & Shelves Category until November 8th. Stop in to take advantage of this great deal!


Newport XL-A Pneumatic Isolation Mount 27.5" Set of 4

TMC Optical Table Pneumatic Base 14203250

Newport Optical Table 5 ft. x 8 ft. x 12 inch Research Series Plus

TMC Cleantop Optical Table 4 ft. X 6 ft. X 8 inch

Thorlabs Optical Aluminum Breadboard 3 ft. X 4 ft.