Predictive Molding of Precision Glass Optics 2009-01-1199
Precision glass molding process is an attractive approach to manufacture small precision optical lenses in large volume over traditional manufacturing techniques because of its advantages such as low cost, fast time to market and being environment friendly. In this paper, we present a physics-based computational tool that predicts the final geometry of the glass element after molding process using the finite element method. Deformations of both glass and molds are considered at three different stages: heating, molding, and cooling. A 2D axisymmetric finite element model is developed to model the glass molding process. The proposed modeling technique is more efficient than the all-in-one modeling technique. The molds are assumed to be rigid, except for thermal expansion, at all time and glass treated as a flexible body during the compression. Details on identifying material parameters, modeling assumptions, and simplifications are discussed. The tool can be used to predict the final shape of the molded optic. This tool eventually can be used to design proper mold geometry that yields the correct shape of the final optical element, thereby eliminating the iterative procedure for designing the molds.