In some instances, features of an optical system like lenses, mirrors and other reflectors, are required that cannot be readily made using conventional optics manufacturing processes like grinding, lapping and polishing.
For these components the production method of choice uses computer controlled freeform surface profiling equipment.
Freeform Surfacing Equipment
Computer aided freeform surface profiling equipment can be used to make freeform optics from various forms of glass, metals and plastics with tolerances measured in nanometers. With such tight tolerances the machined part is unlikely to require further machining or finishing in order to produce a final product.
Advantages of Freeform Manufacturing
Freeform manufacturing can produce a final product directly from a computer file of a prototype design. The product can be produced directly or a mould can be made from which large volume products can be produced at an economical price.
Applications of Freeform Optics
Freeform optics tend to be applied to areas that require highly specific, ultra-precision optics. Such applications include mirrors and lenses in the automotive, aerospace, space and defence industries.