What's it about?
Sapphire poses very difficult challenges to optical manufacturers due to its high hardness and anisotropic properties. These challenges can result in long lead times and high prices. Large optical sensor windows demand much higher precision surfaces compared to transparent armor (windshields) to achieve acceptable image quality. Optimax is developing a high speed, cost effective process to produce such windows. The Optimax high speed process is a two-step process that combines precision fixed abrasive grinding and high speed polishing. In-house studies have demonstrated cycle time reduction of up to 6X as compared to conventional processing.
Hard crystalline materials such as sapphire are desirable for large, high precision sensor windows because of its strength, heat resistance and wide range of transmitted wavelengths. High hardness and anisotropic properties make the material difficult and time-consuming to process to the high precision optical quality surfaces required by large sensor windows. The processing challenges mentioned above make high quality windows very expensive...