Freeform optics have immense capabilities since they do not have the limitations of rotationally symmetric optics such as spheres and aspheres. However, the same qualities that make freeform optics so capable also make them challenging to produce cost-effectively. With advancements in optical manufacturing technology, freeform optics are becoming more prevalent in optical systems. While the latest solutions are necessary, the complexity of freeforms also require experienced opticians that thoroughly understand the manufacturing process in order to produce these optics efficiently and within the required specifications.
Vertex Optics has state-of-the-art grinding and polishing machines as well as optics professionals with decades of experience manufacturing freeform optics. For freeforms up to 150mm, rough and fine grinding of the surface is performed on the OptiPro eSX 150 CNC optical grinding machine. For freeforms up to 300mm, the OptiPro OptiSonic 550X is utilized for producing the ground surface. While the OptiSonic 550X has greater machine travel distance, both have the 5 axes of motion required for freeform optics grinding.
Freeform polishing is performed on the OptiPro Triumph polishing machine, which also have 5-axes of motion and incorporates the UltraForm Finishing sub-aperture polishing technology. The flexibility of UFF makes it capable of polishing a variety of freeform optical shapes to sub-micron form tolerances.
The eSX 150, OptiSonic 550X, and Triumph are all driven by toolpaths created in Mastercam, the industry-standard computer aided manufacturing software. All three machines are capable of processing freeforms out of a variety of materials, including optical glasses, crystals, and technical ceramics.