An optical table is a vibration control platform that is used to support systems used for laser- and optics-related experiments, engineering and manufacturing. The surfaces of these tables are designed to be very rigid with minimum deflection so that the alignment of optical elements remains stable over time.Many optical systems require that vibration of optical elements be kept small. As a result, optical tables are typically very heavy and incorporate vibration isolation and damping features in their structure. Many use pneumatic isolators that act as mechanical low-pass filters, reducing the ability of vibrations in the floor to cause vibrations in the tabletop.
The surface of an optical table is typically stainless steel with a rectangular grid of tapped holes in either metric or imperial units:
metric: M6 on a 25 mm grid
imperial: ¼-20" UNC on a 1" (25.4 mm) grid
Optical breadboards, benches, and rails are simpler structures that perform a similar function to optical tables. These are used in teaching and in research and development, and are also sometimes used to support permanently aligned optical systems in finished devices.