4) High-Precision Printing of Complex Glass Imaging Optics with Precondensed Liquid Silica Resin

Date Published: April 25, 2022

3D printing of optics has gained significant attention in optical industry, but most of the research has been focused on organic polymers. In spite of recent progress in 3D printing glass, 3D printing of precision glass optics for imaging applications still faces challenges from shrinkage during printing and thermal processing, and from inadequate surface shape and quality to meet the requirements for imaging applications. This paper reports a new liquid silica resin (LSR) with higher curing speed, better mechanical properties, lower sintering temperature, and reduced shrinkage, as well as the printing process for high-precision glass optics for imaging applications. It is demonstrated that the proposed material and printing process can print almost all types of optical surfaces, including flat, spherical, aspherical, freeform, and discontinuous surfaces, with accurate surface shape and high surface quality for imaging applications. It is also demonstrated that the proposed method can print complex optical systems with multiple optical elements, completely removing the time-consuming and error-prone alignment process. Most importantly, the proposed printing method is able to print optical systems with active moving elements, significantly improving system flexibility and functionality. The printing method will enable the much-needed transformational manufacturing of complex freeform glass optics that are currently inaccessible with conventional processes.


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Alvarez Lens

SEM image of a printed glass Alvarez lens, the right element can be moved to change the power of the Alvarez lens. Courtesy of Hong et al.