7 September 2001 Fabrication challenges associated with conformal optics
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Abstract
A conformal optic is typically an optical window that conforms smoothly to the external shape of a system platform to improve aerodynamics. Conformal optics can be on-axis, such as an ogive missile dome, or off-axis, such as in a free form airplane wing. A common example of conformal optics is the automotive head light window that conforms to the body of the car aerodynamics and aesthetics. The unusual shape of conformal optics creates tremendous challenges for design, manufacturing, and testing. This paper will discuss fabrication methods that have been successfully demonstrated to produce conformal missile domes and associated wavefront corrector elements. It will identify challenges foreseen with more complex free-form configurations. Work presented in this paper was directed by the Precision Conformal Optics Consortium (PCOT). PCOT is comprised of both industrial and academic members who teamed to develop and demonstrate conformal optical systems suitable for insertion into future military programs. The consortium was funded under DARPA agreement number MDA972-96-9-08000.
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John Schaefer, Richard A. Eichholtz, Frank C. Sulzbach, "Fabrication challenges associated with conformal optics", Proc. SPIE 4375, Window and Dome Technologies and Materials VII, (7 September 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.439168; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.439168
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