Fabrication of Affordable Aspheric Mirrors by Electroforming (FAAME)
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2702 Triana Boulevard, SW, Suite A, Huntsville, AL, 35805
AbstractUntil recently, the cost of high performance electro-optical systems such as missile seekers have been dominated by the cost of the focal plane array. Recent developments are improving the affordability of arrays, with the result that the optical andopto-mechanical subsystems are emerging as the cost drivers. We have addressed this problem through the development of opto-mechanical systems built by precision electroforming. This approach is very promising, but affordability is endangered by immatureprocess technology. Precision electroforming in theory allows a complicated, expensive, optical master mandrel to produce low cost replicas. Experience in a manufacturing plant using current processes taught that mandrel lifetime is going to be anaffordability barrier, partially because semi-skilled workers can damage the mandrel. This program will address affordability of electroformed precision aspheric mirrors through two thrusts: process technology, and the use of multi-generation mandrels. Weexpect to reduce the cost of precision replication by at least of factor of 100, and for the new process to reduce the cost of components delivered to systems by at least a factor of 2, compared to conventional manufacturing.This program will result inlower cost precision aspheric mirrors for DoD systems, as well as providing the benefits of flexible and dual use manufacturing. There is a large commercial market for these optical components if the cost/performance can be reduced beyond that of thecurrent manufacturing techniques.
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