At the heart of many photonics projects is a microlens or an array of microlenses. Whether one is attempting to design and fabricate a laser diode corrector, optical fiber coupler, optical storage device or any other microlens-incorporating device, designing what is fabricatable and fabricating what is designed are obviously the keys to success. The limitations that are inherent to the fabrication process result in a variety of innovative solutions and trade-offs. Newer materials and gray-scale production methods provide great flexibility in design and fabrication. Additionally, a designer with a good working knowledge of the fabrication process and its associated problems greatly aids the successful and timely completion of any photonics project. However, the obvious is often overlooked when the designer does not understand fabrication limitations or does not communicate reasonable tolerances to the fabrication engineer. Time constraints are often the culprit in this fast-paced, highly competitive technology. By the time the fabrication engineer becomes involved, the project is often behind schedule, and the fabricator must second-guess the designer to try to make up lost time. . . . Meet the author Jeremiah Brown is a lens designer at Mems Optical in Huntsville, Ala. He has a patent pending on the fabrication of dual-sided anamorphic lenses using gray-scale technology. He is completing a degree in physics and math at the University of Alabama.