Precision Glass Molding: For Scalable Manufacturability Application Note

Precision Glass Molding 1
Figure 1. Precision glass molding process

Chalcogenide material is gradually taking over Germanium in the broad IR regime. It performs especially well within the 8 to 12μm range due to its lowest absorption and dispersion in LWIR. The low dn/dT of Chalcogenide makes lens athermalization much simpler by removing the required mechanical compensation complexity. The Chalcogenide series of glasses can be processed by molding. While polished or machined glass lens requires more than 1 hour per piece, the molding process is reduced to 5 mins.

Operation Principle

The overall manufacturing capability is listed in Figure 1.

  1. A precision glass molding manufacturing recipe has been developed for both low and high-transition temperature glasses. With more than 10 years of experience in optics design, the capability could be extended to free-form optics design and microstructured optics design.
  2. The automatic lens inspection system will check the optical performance right after the molding process.
  3. Depending on the target applications, the versatile thin-film coating will be applied. Applications include broadband transmission, high-power lasers, automotive headlight diffusers, etc.
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Figure 2. Samples with molded ChG glass

The key specifications of a typical precision glass molding machine can be found in Tables 1 & 2. For other general specifications such as coating and profile control, please refer to WOE laser optics/IR optics/ biomedical optics catalogs.

Ultra-low Tg glasses for Tg<400゜C

Glass MaterialInfrared glass, PbO-based glass
Mold MaterialStainless steel, Optical-grade Aluminum alloy, Electroless nickel
Mold MachiningAspherical Glass molding machine
Mold Life<1000 pieces
Table 1. Key specifications of precision glass molding

Low Tg glass Tg<650゜C

Glass MaterialOxide-based glass
Mold MaterialTungsten carbide
Mold MachiningUltra-precision grinding
Mold Life<10000 pieces
Table 2. Key specifications of precision glass molding

Applications

With higher optical quality, high-temperature resistance and thermal stability, corrosion resistance, scratch resistance, and wide refractive index, precision molded glass could be used in various industry sectors as suggested in Figure 2.

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Figure 3. Application of precision molded lens etc.

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