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On October 21, 2019, Teamed with University of Central Florida, IRflex Corporation signed another STTR Phase I contract with NAVAIR for developing an “Additive Manufacturing of Inorganic Transparent Materials for Advanced Optics”.
Additive manufacturing (AM) is the industrial production name for 3D printing, a computer controlled process that creates three-dimensional objects by depositing materials, usually in layers. The benefits of AM are widely realized for structural systems; however, work on printing optical systems is still in its comparative nascency. The majority of the work has been primarily focused on polymers. There are broad arrays of weapon and surveillance systems that utilize high performance optics. Many of these applications require greater wavelength transmission range, hardness, and temperature stability compared to polymers. The potential for utilizing AM technology to print glass lenses will provide the ability to 1) deposit net shape or near net-shape free-form optics, 2) locally adjust the index of refraction and other optical properties such as dispersion, 3) create high precision low thermal expansion meteorological frames that can form the basis for refractive optics, and 4) repair existing optical systems.
The objective of this STTR Phase I project is to develop an Additive Manufacturing (AM) process for depositing inorganic glasses with sufficient quality and precision for free-form and gradient index optics.