4th International Colloquium on Optics "Optics - Key Technology for the Future"

18.03.09
Berbnd Bresseler
Bernd Bresseler
Quellenhof_tcm234-141651
Quellenhof_tcm234-141651
Today advanced optics and optical systems are essential components which enable innovative product developments especially in several fast growing industries. Due to the ongoing demands for mobility and resolution optical systems are designed with lower weight and smaller size. In this context glass optics are continuously in competition to plastic optics, but often its stable optical performances make them the preferred materials. The trend is obvious - the rising demand for optical elements with increasing geometrical complexity. Aspherical optics, diffractive optical elements, and monolythical lens arrays are already implemented to compensate the limitations of spherical components.
Direct optical manufacturing i.e. by pre-grinding, finish grinding and polishing is an established process chain for standard optics. It can produce lenses with higher geometrical accuracy and surface quality with adequate cost efficiency, although, the process chain requires extensive technological know-how. Comprehensive automation strategies are therefore difficult to implement. Conventional glass optics manufacturing plants are characterized by manual procedures and significant dependency on empirical knowledge. Direct manufacture of complex shaped optical elements requires significantly more efforts. Several process steps on different advanced machine tools have to be chained and fed back which results in long manufacturing times and high costs per piece. Of course these process chains are justified and required when highest accuracies on large optics are needed. A typical example is the manufacture of ultra precise optics for wafer steppers for microlithography.
However, there exists a large demand for complex imaging optics with medium accuracy (i.e. l/4-l/6). These optics are used in many applications within consumer electronics, laser technology, automotive or life science industry.
One promising approach to fill this gap is the replicative production technology. Europe is in an excellent position in the design and development of advanced optical systems. However, many industries have been transferring their production to low-wage countries.
The application of precision glass moulding - as one example of replicative manufacturing - utilizes our strengths. It is designed for automation, the high requirement for technological know-how and the minimum process steps to just one manufacturing device precision glass moulding is destined to become an important technology for the european optical industry.


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