A novel processes called Diamond Micro Chiseling (DMC) has been developed in Germany to expand the spectrum of machinable geometries. It is creating more options for manufacturing mold inserts used in optical plastics, such as highway reflectors.
DMC creates prismatic microstructures between 50 μm and 500 μm that cannot be manufactured by conventional processes such as turning, milling or planing. The process uses specifically designed V-shaped diamond tools, special tool kinematics and an ultraprecise 5-axis machine tool.
Examples of shapes that can be produced include corner-cube retroreflectors. The function of retroreflectors is to return light back to the original light source in the same direction. A set of three mutually perpendicular reflective surfaces made into the corner of a cube work as a retroreflector. Corner reflectors work well at sending light back to the source over long distances. One common application is road reflectors. A potential future application is free-space optical communications networks
Details will be presented at the Annual Technical Conference of the Society of Plastics Engineers, which will be held concurrently with NPE2012 (Orlando, FL, April 1-5). The paper will be presented by Lars Schönemann, a staff member of the Laboratory for Precision Machining, Bremen, Germany.