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Design rules for accurate blank molding of high-precision optics

: Schuh, Günther; Klappert, Sascha; Nollau, Sebastian

Laser + photonics 8 (2009), Nr.5, S.12-13
ISSN: 1865-5475
Fraunhofer IPT ()

High-precision glass optics still tend to be manufactured using time consuming and conventional cost intensive process chains involving turning, grinding and polishing. However, the future lies in high precision, cost-effective replicative manufacturing processes, such as precision blank molding, although this has yet to become widely established within Europe. With this process, optics can be manufactured in a single process step. For this reason, high-precision blank molding technology is being developed as part of the Production 4μ project, which is funded by the European Union and coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT). The project consortium comprises more than 20 leading companies, research institutes and associations from all over Europe. In addition to the required expertise in relation to precision blank molding, this project will also develop solutions from the areas of automation, measuring technology and management in order to make this technology accessible to the European market. One of the main attractions of this technology for industry is the clear cost benefits it offers. However, precision blank molding is also of interest because it enables the replicative manufacturing of forms that are very difficult to create using conventional processes, such as a spherical elements, arrays or even diffractive optics.