Diamond machining originates from the 1950s to 1970s in the USA. This technology was originally designed for
machining of metal optics at macroscopic dimensions with so far unreached tolerances. During the following decades the
machine tools, the monocrystalline diamond cutting tools, the workpiece materials and the machining processes
advanced to even higher precision and flexibility. For this reason also the fabrication of small functional components like
micro optics at a large spectrum of geometries became technologically and economically feasible.
Today, several kinds of fast tool machining and multi axis machining operations can be applied for diamond machining
of micro optical components as well as diffractive optical elements. These parts can either be machined directly as single
or individual component or as mold insert for mass production by plastic replication. Examples are multi lens arrays,
micro mirror arrays and fiber coupling lenses.
This paper will give an overview about the potentials and limits of the current diamond machining technology with
respect to micro optical components.
The manufacturing of optics is an important field of technology and will serve key-markets in the future. The research activities of the Transregional Collaborative Research Center ”Process Chains for the Replication of Complex Optical Elements” SFB/TR4 of the Universities of Aachen, Bremen and Stillwater (USA) have the objective to lay the
scientific foundations for a deterministic and economic mass production of optical components with complex geometries, e.g. aspheric, non-rotational asymmetric or microstructured surfaces eventually superimposed on freeform geometries. The paper presents an approach for an integrated simulation and measurement interface for the analysis of manufacturing effects during the mold making as well as first results of its application on the basis of the manufacturing of mold inserts.