Freeform and conformal optics have the potential to dramatically improve optical systems by enabling systems with fewer optical components, reduced aberrations, and improved aerodynamic performance. These optical components differ from standard components in their surface shape, typically a non-symmetric equation based definition, and material properties. Traditional grinding and polishing tools are unable to handle these freeform shapes. Additionally, standard metrology tools cannot measure these surfaces. Desired substrates are typically hard ceramics, including poly-crystalline alumina or aluminum oxynitride. Notwithstanding the challenges that the hardness provides to manufacturing, these crystalline materials can be highly susceptible to grain decoration creating unacceptable scatter in optical systems. In this presentation, we will show progress towards addressing the unique challenges of manufacturing conformal windows and domes. Particular attention is given to our robotic polishing platform. This platform is based on an industrial robot adapted to accept a wide range of tooling and parts. The robot’s flexibility has provided us an opportunity to address the unique challenges of conformal windows. Slurries and polishing active layers can easily be changed to adapt to varying materials and address grain decoration. We have the flexibility to change tool size and shape to address the varying sizes and shapes of conformal optics. In addition, the robotic platform can be a base for a deflectometry-based metrology tool to measure surface form error. This system, whose precision is independent of the robot’s positioning accuracy, will allow us to measure optics in-situ saving time and reducing part risk. In conclusion, we will show examples of the conformal windows manufactured using our developed processes.
Ian Ferralli, Todd Blalock, Matt Brunelle, Timothy Lynch, Brian Myer, and Kate Medicus, "Manufacturing and metrology for IR conformal windows and domes," Proc. SPIE 10179, Window and Dome Technologies and Materials XV, 101790M (Presented at SPIE Defense + Security: April 12, 2017; Published: 3 May 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2263000.
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