Ultra-Precision Machine Technology: Diamond Turning
Sunday, April 17, 2016

Ultra-precision machining is the act of removing material from a substrate with a tool that operates at a resolution of 10 nm (0.4 uin) or less, either from a single-point diamond turning or free form machining.

Hardly a historical form of machining, diamond turning saw it’s first advances in the 1980’s and is now an established and affordable process for crafting highly accurate optical components requiring micro-inch dimensional tolerances.

With an ultra-precision, vibration-free machine, a single-crystal, natural diamond cutting tool efficiently and cleanly removes material from the substrate. The tool’s cutting edge is extremely sharp, so very little pressure is necessary, resulting in a surface with perfected optical qualities.

Optical quality requires extreme precision, which can be compromised when tools experience wear. Diamond tools retain a precise cutting edge throughout the machining process thanks to an extreme hardness that grants them a high tolerance to wear. This results in a highly reflective, low-scatter optical surface with accuracies that range 2 to 4 uin., peak-to-valley.

Diamond turning tools have a well-defined grain structure, unlike carbide or CBN (cubic boron nitride) tools. When mounting the tool in its shank, tool manufacturers orient the tool so as to make optimal use of the hardest point of the diamond. This orientation provides for the longest possible tool life, while also maximizing the tool’s resistance to wear. Because of the single-crystal grain structure, diamond tools can be sharpened to the level of atomic spacing, approximately 3 to 5.

For us, in-house diamond turning enables rapid fabrication of precision plastic lenses, mirrors, and injection mold inserts.  Combined with our other capabilities, the result is unmatched speed and flexibility. 

We have two diamond turning machines: the Pneumo MSG 325 and the Moore Nanotech 250UPL.

The Pneumo MSG 325 delivers outstanding precision, and offers a large, 2-axis-turning capacity. The MSG 325 has precision air-bearing spindle, air bearing linear slides, laser interferometer position control, toolset station, and exceptional stability. 

The Moore Nanotech 250UPL is extraordinarily accurate. The Nanotech has box way hydrostatic slides, an air bearing spindle with liquid cooling, and is equipped with a C-axis control and NanoCam 3D software for freeform optics fabrication.  In addition, on-machine gaging and a Taylor Hobson Series 2 Talysurf profilometer allow for precision metrology.

Every new diamond turning job requires creativity and attention to detail.  Our machinists have extensive experience with diamond turning.  You can count on us to deliver a perfect product every time.

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Greenlight Optics is an optical systems engineering and manufacturing company specializing in projection displays, LED and laser illumination, imaging systems, plastic optics, and the integration of optics with electrical and mechanical systems.

The Greenlight Optics team brings a combined 250+ years of experience designing, developing, and manufacturing optical systems for consumer and professional markets.

We are passionate about enabling new optical applications and providing outstanding service to our customers.
Greenlight Optics is a 2016 Inc. 5000 honoree.  Number 2041 on the list of fastest growing private US companies.

July 2017: Greenlight Optics completes ISO 9001:2015 certification. Greenlight Optics has been ISO 9001 certified since 2014.

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