Computer-controlled additive manufacturing (AM) processes, also known as three-dimensional (3D) printing, create 3D objects by the successive adding of a material or materials. While there have been tremendous developments in AM, the 3D printing of optics is lagging due to the limits in materials and tight requirements for optical applicaitons. We propose a new precision additive freeform optics manufacturing (AFOM) method using an pulsed infrared (IR) laser. Compared to ultraviolet (UV) curable materials, thermally curable optical silicones have a number of advantages, such as strong UV stability, non-yellowing, and high transmission, making it particularly suitable for optical applications. Pulsed IR laser radiation offers a distinct advantage in processing optical silicones, as the high peak intensity achieved in the focal region allows for curing the material quickly, while the brief duration of the laser-material interaction creates a negligible heat-affected zone.
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