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Prism Basics: Round vs. 360-Degree Prisms

prism types

Prisms are important surveying accessories that can ultimately have a major impact on the quality of your measurements. Different applications require different prism types. What kind of prism do you need? Here’s a brief overview of the two basic prism types.

Round Prisms

round prismsMost surveying tasks that require high-precision measurements and tight specifications are completed using round prisms. Round prisms are made by taking a triple-prism glass assembly and grinding down the three corners to fit correctly within the circular housing.

There are various round prisms available to fit your specifications – from fixed installations for precise monitoring purposes to classical topographic surveys.

360-Degree Prisms

Leica GRZ122 360 Degree prism Total stations that use automated target recognition and lock technology are best paired with an omni-directional prism. This type of prism is more convenient for operators because they do not have to constantly align the prism to the instrument.

In principal, the 360° prism has the same functionality as a round prism – reflecting the incoming EDM signal towards the instrument’s EDM receiver optics. However, instead of a single triple-prism glass assembly, the 360° prism consists of six tightly assembled triple-prism glass bodies. Each body is comparable to a single round prism but with smaller dimensions and with only slightly ground corners. This type of prism provides a continuous and permanent reflection of the EDM signal.

360-degree prisms are relatively large and heavy. However, these prisms are useful when working with robotics, when the operator at the pole is moving around relatively quickly and needs to concentrate on the points being measured rather than permanently aligning the prism to the instrument.

Need help choosing the right prism? Contact us. Our knowledgeable experts will be happy to assist you.