Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.11K | Year: 2014
Our proposed innovation is a robust manufacturing process for free-form optical surfaces with limited mid-spatial frequency (MSF) irregularity error. NASA and many others have a direct and critical need for high quality free-form optical components. Free-forms can improve the optical performance of many types of optical systems when compared to aspheres. MSF error is a major concern with free-form optics as the standard method for manufacturing free-forms (sub-aperture tool polishing) can lead directly to large MSF error. Simply, MSF error is a height error on the surface in the spatial regime between roughness (micro) and irregularity (macro). MSF errors dramatically degrade performance in optical systems. Our free-form manufacturing process is differentiated by full-aperture polishing step, called VIBE, and by the proposed smoothing step. The VIBE step does not create MSF error as the sub-aperture process does. The smoothing step will reduce any inherent MSF error. In this manner, we will manufacture free-form optical surfaces without MSF errors. Our technical objectives are three fold: 1) Determine most feasible smoothing parameters, 2) Determine feasibility of smoothing for free-forms for reduced mid-spatial frequency error, and 3)Determine the effectiveness of using a computer generated hologram (CGH) for free-form measurements. To accomplish these objectives we have set out the following work plan. First we will design the free-form surface and the associated CGH (with feature for easy alignment). Next, we will perform a study on smoothing to determine the optimized smoothing parameters to remove mid-spatial frequency errors on free-form surfaces. Then, we will manufacture precision free-form surfaces using the optimized parameters. During each step in the manufacturing process (generation, VIBE polishing, smoothing, sub-aperture figure correction, and something) we evaluate both the irregularity and mid-spatial frequency errors.
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.68K | Year: 2016
Monolithic freeform telescopes offer the potential to positively address the size, weight and vibration concerns associated with flight telescope systems. We propose to prove feasibility that our optics manufacturing process is capable of producing of a freeform optical telescope system by manufacturing and testing five optical surfaces on five sides of a single high purity optical material. The resulting working monolithic telescope will include a high precision freeform surface. The capability of in adding of a freeform surface in a monolithic optical telescope design offers flexibility to create more compact designs, larger fields of view, and better-performing unobscured systems.
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Missile Defense Agency | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.96K | Year: 2016
It is proposed that using additive manufacturing to fabricate a lightweight optic would result in a weight reduction of the optical system, since 3D-printing provides superior flexibility in the geometric design of the lightweight optic. In addition, the conventional approach to lightweight an optic requires machining of mechanically-hard optical substrates such as SiC, which is time-intensive and requires costly and dedicated equipment. In contrast, 3D-printing requires no machining to reduce weight. 3D-printing also offers the capability to produce near-net shape optical surfaces with complex geometries. Phase I determined it was feasible to design a 3D-printed optic with low areal density and good thermal stability, as well as produce a 3D-printed demonstration optic with good optical figure and mirror coatings with high laser damage threshold, low absorption, and good mechanical integrity. Phase II will extend these results through creating and testing 3D-printed prototype optics. The optics will utilize new and novel 3D-printable materials, improved finite element analysis (FEA) modeling designs, and an improved optical coating. Approved for Public Release, 15-MDA-8303 (1 July 15)
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Army | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 999.98K | Year: 2015
This proposal encompasses two opportunities, low cost finishing of monolithic optical ceramic domes with embedded grids, and low cost finishing of a novel optical ceramic domes. In Phase II we will continue to improve our manufacturing process to show a
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 599.89K | Year: 2015
Optical fabrication challenges exist before an IR conformal optical sensor system can be realized. These challenges will be addressed in the current Phase II proposal. For example, in current work, the deterministic polishing process will be extended to meet requisite optical specifications (i.e. figure, finish) for IR transparent freeform corrector elements. In addition, the fabricated corrector element will be evaluated for performance in a complete optical assembly. Development and testing of a complete assembly provides an important assessment of future optical tolerance requirements for IR conformal window or dome sensor systems. This feedback loop between designer and fabricator is critical to properly defining optical component specifications with an understanding of manufacturing limitations. Furthermore, working through the process from beginning (optical design) to end (system assembly and test) provides an accurate and realistic cost and delivery estimate. Finally, in order to make production of freeform corrector elements economically feasible, the fabrication process needs to be cost-effective and rapid. Hence, multiple cost saving measures will be developed and implemented to enable production of low cost, optically precise freeform optics at larger quantities.
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 79.72K | Year: 2015
Aspheric and conformal optics have become critical components in the aerodynamic features of missiles and aircraft systems. The smooth and sleek shape of the optics improves the aerodynamic quality and performance. These shapes are difficult to manufacture and measure due to the significant amount of inherent optical aberrations. However, production of the component requires metrology feedback on the surface figure to ensure quality of the dome or window. This process is time-consuming, error prone, and potentially damaging to the part due the amount of manual handling required.
Optimax proposes solving the metrology and manufacturing problem by combining fringe reflection measurement technique, and robotic deterministic polishing. Fringe reflection measurement technique (also known as deflectometry) is a robust non-contact, high resolution, non-interferometric method to measure surface figure. Its required hardware is significantly less expensive and more flexible than standard phase shifting interferometers. In addition, deflectometry can measure surfaces with larger slope deviation than interferometry and can more easily (and in a less expensive manner) measure large components.
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 79.73K | Year: 2015
Freeform conformal windows, which match an airframe?s shape, are used to protect sensor arrays. These windows provide the advantages of traditional sensor windows, namely, durability, in combination with superior aerodynamic performance. The goal of this Phase I SBIR project is to demonstrate the capability to produce a large (12? x 12?), non-rotationally symmetric window to tight optical tolerances. In addition to demonstrating manufacturing capability, the Phase I effort will include development of critical features of the window and manufacturing process such as fiducials and freeform window blocking advances.
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.89K | Year: 2015
Our proposed innovation is additive manufacturing for the production of lightweight mirror substrates for flight applications with high mechanical stability. The steps of our proposed process for manufacturing lightweight 3D printed mirrors: first, a geometrically complex substrate is easily and cost-effectively manufactured using 3D printing. After printing, the mirror surface is lapped and polished using traditional manufacturing methods to final figure specifications. Then, a flight or space ready mirror coating is applied to the surface and the part is tested for performance. Additive manufacturing will permit lightweight mirrors with support structures that are impossible with traditional manufacturing methods for lightweighting. In addition, these structures will be optimized in size, shape, and location to negate thermal effects from changes in temperature and mechanical effects from stresses during manufacture, mounting, and flight. Technical Objective 1: Demonstrate feasibility of additive manufacturing a lightweight substrate with mechanical and thermal stability at flight temperatures Our goal for this objective is to manufacture a spherical mirror substrate suitable for light focusing applications at a range of temperatures for flight applications Technical Objective 2: Demonstrate feasibility of depositing mirror coatings at low temperatures for flight applications A low temperature deposition process minimizes shape distortion of the 3D-printed substrate that would occur during a typical coating. Our work plan consists of the following tasks: 1: Mirror Substrate Design and Optimization 2: Manufacturing of the Optimized Mirror Substrate using 3D printing 3: Polishing the Mirror Substrate 4: Low-Temperature Deposition of Mirror Coatings on Substrates for Flight Applications
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.84K | Year: 2015
Monolithic freeform telescopes offer the potential to positively address the size, weight and vibration concerns associated with flight telescope systems. We propose to prove feasibility that our optics manufacturing process is capable of producing of a freeform optical telescope system by manufacturing and testing four optical surfaces on four sides of a single high purity optical material. The resulting working monolithic telescope will include a high precision freeform surface. The capability of in adding of a freeform surface in a monolithic optical telescope design offers flexibility to create more compact designs, larger fields of view, and better-performing unobscured systems.
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.88K | Year: 2015
The goal of this NASA SBIR Phase I study is to determine the feasibility of measuring precision (fractional wave) freeform optics using non-contact areal (imaging) optical sensors measuring slope data. Fabrication of a physical "test plate" for each freeform design is impractical and cost prohibitive. Nevertheless, surfaces must be inspected while the part is still fixed or blocked (one surface exposed). The proposed innovation is a non-contact metrology method for manufacture of precision freeform optical surfaces; a tool to play the role of the test plate in conventional optical testing. The proposed method is to be implemented as close to the CNC machine as possible to provide rapid and regular feedback to opticians throughout manufacture. Once implemented into the freeform manufacturing process, this procedure has great potential to streamline processing while increasing the manufacturing technician's information about surface condition during production. NASA and many other agencies and companies have a stated critical need for high-quality freeform optical components, and will benefit from improvements to production and testing of freeforms. Metrology is currently one gating item in the manufacturing of precision freeform surfaces.