November 6, 2014
Optics manufacturing increasingly important
LASER World of PHOTONICS 2015 provides comprehensive overview
Munich. Whether ophthalmic lenses, bathroom fittings, displays, large-area LEDs, lenses or astronomical mirrors: Many items in daily use or in industrial manufacturing are made with manufacturing machines for optics. Optical components and beam sources are the pillars on which the market for optical technologies is built. A comprehensive overview of all this awaits visitors to LASER World of PHOTONICS 2015 from 22 – 25 June 2015 at the Messe München site. An important part of the exhibition at the world's leading trade fair is the “Optics and manufacturing technology for optics” area.
Optics make a critical contribution to innovation in the photonics industry. Because they make it possible to open up new areas where beam sources reach their limits. Along with the laser as a light source, the performance of photonic applications depends on the functionality of the optical components. For example, the (laser) light employed is shaped using mirrors or lenses, thus enhancing the application's accuracy and effect. For instance, greater processor performance in microelectronics and computer manufacturing is achieved if the information density on the chips is increased by using mirrors to shape the laser beams employed.
Optical machine manufacturers give fillip to photonics industry
Popular low-energy LED lamps also depend on optics manufacturing technologies: So-called free-form optics are used in high-performance LEDs in more recent street lamps.
Matthias Pfaff, Head of the Precision Optics and Metrology Business Unit at OptoTech Optikmaschinen GmbH, explains: “free-form surfaces are used to shape short-wave beams and generate images from them. Shaping is no longer by a lens but by a mirror!" Technological progress is driving development in the direction of greater complexity of optical components. Narrow tolerances, the use of challenging glass varieties and very demanding geometries, for example, need to be taken into account when manufacturing computer chips. Pfaff added: “people are endeavoring to achieve ever greater information density on these chips. And this is only feasible by increasing the size of the projection optics used in the manufacturing of the chips or shortening laser wavelengths. The latter is now virtually impossible as there are material limits. But the beams can be shaped with various mirrors produced as free-form areas. Ultimately, it is this beam forming that paves the way for greater computer chip performance.” By its own account, his company boasts the world's most extensive offering of machines and processes for machining precisions optics: for grinding, polishing and centering as well as for measuring and cementing devices.
More than 550 companies will be presenting optics manufacturing processes and equipment at LASER World of PHOTONICS 2015 as well as raw materials, optical fibers and lenses. Application panels in the visitor forums will be showcasing concrete applications. Notable speakers such as Dr. Edgar Willenborg of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have been invited to the panels where he will be talking about laser machining of glass.
Innovation enablers at the LASER World of PHOTONICS 2015
Optical machinery manufacturers are considered in this country to be powerhouses for new ideas and are highly innovative. They play a leading role in developing new features and in boosting optical component performance.
Ophthalmic and precision optical machine manufacturer SCHNEIDER GmbH and Co. KG was honored as a top innovator at the German SME summit 2014. Sales Director Dr. Thomas Danger currently sees various market developments in the industry: “especially topics such as higher productivity but also a high level of process reliability and manufacturing precision are attracting particular attention.”
Gerd Stach is Sales Manager at Satisloh GmbH, nominated for the German Federal Ecodesign Award 2014 for its ophthalmic glass production without the use of heavy metals. He cites the production of aspherical lenses as an important trend: “these are lenses with surfaces that depart slightly from the spherical form. They are based on a completely different manufacturing process to that used to manufacture spherical lenses. This requires high-precision machines.” Aspherical lenses are also used in ophthalmic optics. The advantage they offer compared with spherical, namely symmetrically shaped lenses, is that they do not cause any imaging artefacts.
The award-garlanded and prize-nominated optical machine manufacturers will be found at LASER World of PHOTONICS 2015 in Munich rubbing shoulders with leading innovators from the entire industry. This is where visitors will encounter all the players involved in the photonics application innovation process and in new markets in one location.