How Does a Breadboard Differ from an Optical Table?

By AZO Network November 14, 2023

Choosing the right optical infrastructure—be it a breadboard or an optical table—is crucial for achieving precise scientific results. This article delves into the expanded technical differences between these two platforms, revealing their distinct features and versatile applications in scientific settings.

Material Composition and Structure:

At first glance, optical breadboards and tables may seem like similar staging grounds for experimentation. Yet a closer examination of their structure and material composition tells a unique story. Kinetic Systems offers a variety of breadboards tailored to diverse needs, including: 

  • 5700 Series: Our premium 5700 Series breadboards include the 2-inch 5702, which forgoes a traditional honeycomb core for our patented, ultra-rigid VIBRALITE extruded aluminum core; and the 4-inch 5704 which mirrors the construction of our optical tables with a honeycomb core and SPILLPRUF layer. Like our optical tables, these breadboards feature 7-gage ferromagnetic stainless steel on both the top and bottom skins, ensuring maximum durability..
  • C-Series Composite Breadboards: Our C-Series breadboards offer a cost-effective solution with a special two-layer wood composite core and ferromagnetic stainless steel top and bottom skins, available with a stainless steel or customizable laminate finish.
  • S-Series Vibradamped High-Mass Tabletops: Not traditional breadboards, the S-Series plates provide a high-inertial-mass option to enhance the performance of pneumatic isolators. 
  • 7000-Series Mounting Plates: The 7000-Series caters to setups where vibration is not a concern, offering undamped ½” anodized aluminum plates for precise fixturing at an economical price point.

Rigidity, Flatness, and Damping

Rigidity and flatness is where the divergence truly begins. While our breadboards are designed primarily for convenience and value, our optical tables are inherently more rigid due to their thickness, and they are manufactured to a more stringent flatness specification. In addition, our 5200 and 5300 series optical tables feature enhanced damping that is a critical requirement for many high-precision applications. Breadboards, because they are thinner, are not as rigid as optical tables.

Importantly, all of our breadboards and optical tables can be matched with our VIBRAPLANE pneumatic vibration isolation supports, whether as an integrated workstation, matched with a set of our 1206 Series isolators, or placed on top of our 505 Series isolation mounts. Our 5704 with its SPILLPRUF layer and honeycomb core is a very high-performance breadboard, but when stiffness, flatness, or damping are top priorities, our Optical Tables provide unmatched performance, durability, and value. 

Damping Matters 

While our optical tables provide the ultimate performance in a scientific work surface in terms of rigidity, flatness, and damping, our breadboards and high-mass tabletops also include significant damping features. The 5700-series and C-series both feature broadband damping due to our proprietary epoxy formulation; additionally all of our standard C-series breadboards include a 2-layer core to improve damping performance. Meanwhile, our high-mass S-Series tabletops are bonded with a damping layer of 16-gage stainless steel on the underside for maximum damping plus the unmatched durability. 

Spectrum of Applications

This diversity in design propels each platform into different areas of utility. The superior vibration damping of optical tables makes them indispensable for groundbreaking research. In contrast, the 5700 Series breadboards, with their ease of setup and adaptability, extend their utility to applications where a balance of stability and portability is key. The C-Series offers a cost-effective option with customizable finishes, perfect for many demanding applications where mounting holes are not needed. 

Modularity and Customization

Customization is another arena where Kinetic Systems stands out. Our optical tables and breadboards can be made in any size up to 4’x8’ (breadboards) or 5’x20’ (optical tables), and in virtually any shape. In addition, our optical tables can be fitted with high-precision splice plates allowing almost unlimited extension in both width and length. Our optical tables can be matched with either active-air, passive-air, or rigid supports; and with optional leg braces and casters for added stability and mobility. We also offer shelving, enclosures, and many other commonly specified accessories for our optical tables. Our breadboards and high-mass tabletops, meanwhile, can be integrated with one of our workstations, which feature a wide number of configuration options and accessories such as shelving, enclosures, monitor and keyboard supports, faraday cages, and protective enclosures. with various accessories and add-ons, allowing for a tailored setup to meet the demands of complex experiments and high-precision instrumentation.

Kinetic Systems’ breadboards and optical tables are crafted for precision and versatility. Each product is designed with specific applications in mind, ensuring that every scientific endeavor is supported by the appropriate platform. We encourage you to visit our newly updated product pages for breadboards and optical tables, which showcase the breadth of our offerings and invite you to find the perfect fit for your research needs.


Distasio, A. (2018). Do I Need an Optical Breadboard or Table. Optics Lab Tips and Tricks. [Date accessed: 19/10/23]. Available at:


comments for this post are closed