09 May 2013
Two week turnaround to manufacture custom designed micro-optics devices.
PowerPhotonic, Dalgety Bay, UK, has launched what it is calling "the world’s first low-cost freeform micro-optics rapid fabrication service". The "LightForge" micro-optics fabrication service allows optical designers to create their own bespoke optical surfaces and have the fabricated part shipped inside two weeks, for under US$3,000.
Using LightForge, optical device designers can simply upload their design to the PowerPhotonic web portal from industry standard optical design packages such as Zemax. After upload, the optic design is compared with the LightForge design guidelines to ensure compliance, and a physical layout generated for verification by the designer. Once the designer is happy with the design, there is a simple sign-off then part goes into manufacture.
Roy McBride, MD of PowerPhotonic, commented, “This rapid fabrication service will revolutionise the purchase of custom micro-optics. Previously, the specification, ordering and delivery of new micro-optic components has been an expensive and time-consuming process.
"By standardizing component specification, shortening lead time for custom parts and removing the need for NRE (non-recurring engineering), LightForge has created a new approach to micro-optics manufacturing. Optical designers will be able to create innovative new freeform surfaces, test new ideas and verify designs for production without incurring expensive upfront engineering charges and lengthy prototyping lead times.“
The process can create a wide range of refractive optical elements, ranging from generic functional devices such as beam transformers and microlens arrays, to specialized components such as diode laser "smile correctors" and wavefront compensator phaseplates, to completely customized surface shapes.
The LightForge product offers a variety of options including a broadband anti-reflection coating and a mounting option that enables quick and easy deployment using industry standard 2 inch lens mounts. The fabrication service, which is available immediately, is described in this video:
About the Author
Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org