Delivering High-Precision Optical Coatings in High Volumes
By Fred J. Van Milligen Ph.D., Senior Director Research and Development, CCOP/AOT
The ICCG – International Conference on Coatings on Glass and Plastics – is being held June 24-28 in Breda, The Netherlands. Every other year the conference brings together scientists, technologists, practitioners and managers from universities, research institutes, coating manufacturers, material and equipment suppliers, and user industries to discuss the latest developments in the field of large-area glass and plastic coatings. This year Dr. Georg Ockenfuss, Senior Process & Product Development Engineer, delivered an invited presentation on behalf of JDSU’s Custom Optics Product Group.
The presentation focused on three major points with respect to the challenge of delivering high-precision optical coatings in high volumes. Today JDSU considers high precision to be ~0.5% tolerances, with layer counts between 75-1,000 separate layers on glass and plastic surfaces.
High-volume market drivers change. The 1990’s telecom boom drove higher volumes for precision optical coatings to support fiber-based communications. For the last 10 years, the primary market driver has been consumer products in the home and portable devices, particularly smart phones. In one device alone, the iPhone 4, there are 2 cameras and 3 sensors (accelerometer, proximity, ambient light). The precision coatings required for lenses and sensors in such products constitute a tremendous opportunity. However, the consumer market expects products to become more effective and cheaper until they are almost free to purchase. Performance (speed, feature mix, size) must be maintained or improved as prices drop.
Stable and predictable yields are necessary to meet volume demands. To address the continuous growth in demand for precision coatings, JDSU has evolved key manufacturing metrics to help manage cost, quality, and margins. One metric, capital cost to yielded area, helps measure profitability on production output and also helps plan future capacity requirements. Another metric, cycle time per part, helps determine optimal output per process or production machine. Pricing pressures today do not allow low yields or extensive (and costly) measurement; therefore predictable output is the foundation for controlling costs and margins. Stable processes and optimized monitoring are required to ensure predictable yields with minimal testing.
Collaboration between customers and suppliers helps control total cost of ownership. Given the breadth and depth of its optical coating expertise, JDSU is in a good position to collaborate with each customer and explore how to reduce cost by replacing system components with additional features in the optical coating. This design expertise, coupled with the ability to offer a standardized yet flexible manufacturing platform with tight process control, makes JDSU a strong partner.
Events - Optical Communications