CHALLENGES IN INDUSTRY
Realizing and launching novel optical products or automating an existing manual production creates major technological and economic challenges for industry. The development or the transfer of production processes goes along with high risks, is time consuming and requires extensive expert knowledge in manifold domains. The ongoing miniaturization of components and systems, as well as increasingly small tolerances to optimize the systems function create a high demand for robust and sophisticated assembly and packaging solutions. Especially in the field of optical systems, besides the mechanical fit of components especially their optical function needs to be optimized. Often products in many variants (high-mix) need to be manufactured requiring a quick and easy reconfiguration of the equipment. Yet, this challenge is also an opportunity to get production back to Europe. Considering rising labour costs in Asia sophisticated, easy-to-implement automation solutions allow for manufacturing in high-wage countries at competitive costs.
Typically, the development of the product and the production equipment are closely linked and as time is often tight, both processes should ideally be parallelized. From an economic perspective, the acquisition of novel packaging and assembly equipment, compatible with scaling production, goes along with large investments, is risky, and thus can be a showstopper for innovative products or the automation of existing production. We have been dealing with these questions for many years now and with our academic and industrial partners we elaborated and optimized a solution, which is the answer to these questions and find a way to postpone hardware invest, allow for a fabless product launch and enable shortest time to market for novel or existing optical products.
LASER BEAM SHAPING
One of the fields with highest demands regarding assembly accuracy is the field of laser beam-shaping. The collimation of diode lasers requires assembly accuracies in the range of 0.5µm and below. To achieve this in a robust industrial production environment, it requires the mastering of handling, active alignment and bonding.
IMAGING SYSTEMS & LIDAR
Solid state LIDAR-systems work with light sources, light sensors and optical lenses. Many product architectures make the task of LIDAR assembly very similar to the task of objective-to-chip assembly. For the task of dual objective alignment we developed a measurement setup as a standard machine module.
The automated handling and assembly of fiber optics is challenging. The flexible nature of the fibers makes them different from an automation perspective than the handling of rigid parts like lenses. For this purpose, AIXEMTEC developed a patented fiber handling unit which supports the handling of polarization-maintaining fibers such as PM-fiber arrays.
PHOTONIC INTEGRATED CIRCUITS (PICs)
Photonic Integrated Circuits promise many different applications in the future. Foundries provide development and manufacturing services. We offer customized testing- as well as assembly-machines for fiber-to-chip or chip-to-chip applications. Please contact us to learn more about the bonding options such as precision welding, soldering or adhesive bonding. We can adapt our machine designs to edge-coupled as well as to grating-coupled chips.
Micro-optics require special care regarding their transportation and handling. We understand the challenges of aligning micro-optics neatly on a tray so that it can be processed by an automated assembly system. For that reason we develop sorting machines for sensitive micro-optics from a chaotic state (near to bulk parts). Many micro-optical applications require the attachment of supplementary parts for easier handling or attachment to the light source. We provide automated solutions for the precise assembly of such subassemblies with an accuracy of down to +/-1µm @3 sigma.