Whether in the automotive industry, for aerospace, optics or medical technology – high-precision components made of a variety of materials are used as lenses and laser system components, in medical technology and in toolmaking. Ultra-precision machining is required to produce optical and mechanical components from a wide range of materials. When it comes to accuracies in the submicrometer range down to nanostructures, ultra-precision machining with monocrystalline diamond tools is a key technology. The high accuracies offer enormous potential for the requirements of the optics industry, but also for microsystems technology, fluid mechanics or for medical technology and biotechnology.
Many years of expertise in ultra-precision machining
For more than 30 years, Fraunhofer IPT has been researching the machining of components with diamond tools, especially ultra-precision milling, grinding and turning. Our manufacturing portfolio ranges from small to medium-sized optics and free-form surfaces to components with extreme geometric freedom and steep free-form details to micro- and nanostructures on large surfaces over one square meter or on embossing rolls.
Extensive machinery for a wide range of applications
For this purpose, our extensive machinery includes ultra-precision planning and fly-cutting machines, diamond lathes with highly dynamic fast-tool modules and monocrystalline diamonds, as well as state-of-the-art equipment for ultra-precision grinding including ultra-sonic support. Various extension systems developed in-house at Fraunhofer IPT complement the commercially available technologies, which we use to produce high-precision surfaces and homogeneous, submicrometer structures in an enormous geometric variety. The manufacturing processes used allow the production of rotationally and non-rotationally symmetric components, for example spheres, aspheres, free-form surfaces and structured surfaces. By using special ultra-precision machines, air-bearing spindles and suitable process strategies, forming accuracies of less than 250 nanometers peak-to-valley and surface finishes down to less than 5 nanometers center-line roughness can be achieved.
To the limits of what is technically possible
We have mastered the demanding fine-tuning of processes and machine and, even with process times of several days, can control external influences in such a way that an optimum result is always achieved. In combination with a skillful selection of materials, we push the limits of what is technically possible: we process a wide range of different materials, such as ceramics, hard metals, non-ferrous metals, steels, plastics and glasses.