“New Era for Free-Form Micro-Optics”

Sketch of a free-form micro-optics component. (Source: EPIC)

The Phabuloμs consortium is unifying European companies and research and technology organizations through the creation of a self-sustainable pilot line for the design and manufacturing of free-form micro-optical solutions. These solutions will be integrated into high added-value devices, spanning from microdisplays for augmented reality, to innovative systems for professional, automotive, and transportation lighting to optical effects for luxury. The consortium will synchronize its efforts to translate urgent and high-impact industrial needs into industrially relevant predictive software packages, manufacturing tools and processes, characterization methods for quality inspection and integration schemes, all necessary for the successful demonstration of this technology in pre-commercial production runs.

The EU project “pilot-line providing highly advanced & robust manufacturing technology for optical free-form μ-structures” Phabuloμs was launched on January 15 and 16, 2020, at CSEM in Switzerland. There is an urgent need to provide miniaturized optical components due to the exponential growth of the micro-optics market over the last decade. This is in tandem with an increasing need for free-form micro-optics that can address the challenges set by the photonics market over the next five to ten years. Industrial demand for free-form micro-optics is a current market reality, however, the high access barriers to pre-commercial production capabilities in Europe prevent companies, especially SMEs, from commercially exploiting this technology.

Among the objectives of the project, is: the general increase of the current technology and manufacturing readiness levels of free-form micro-optics, the implementation of six industrial user cases demonstrating pilot manufacturing in operational environments for applications spanning from augmented reality to professional, automotive, and transportation lighting to luxury, the establishment of an open-access, sustainable, distributed pilot-line infrastructure with a single-entry point, the validation of the pilot-line services through the implementation of twenty industrial pilot cases in different fields, such as solid-state & day-lighting, photovoltaics, displays & imagers, consumer electronics & wearables, anti-counterfeiting & branding.

Kick off meeting Phabuloμs EU Project in Neuchatel 15-16/01/2020. (Source: EPIC)

Dr. Rolando Ferrini, the project’s coordinator from CSEM, is proud of the project concept: “Phabuloμs will open a new era for free-form micro-optics enabling the industrial manufacturing of innovative micro-optical components for a wealth of different photonics applications, thus becoming the unique entry point in Europe for SMEs and LMEs aiming to pilot and produce devices integrating free-form micro-structures.”

Dr. Reinhard Voelkel, CEO of Suss MicroOptics and a partner of the consortium also stated that: “We are very honored to participate in the free-form photonics EU-pilot line project and to accommodate the wafer-level optics part in our new cleanroom wafer factory in Neuchatel, Switzerland. He notes that “Phabuloμs is a strong consortium and we are very confident that the new Pilot Lines will enforce the competitiveness of European Photonics companies and manufacturing industry in Europe.”

One of the six industrial use case partners is the automotive supplier Hella. Dr. Daniela Karthaus, responsible for new optical technologies at Hella, said: “As a leading manufacturer of automotive lighting systems we strive for developing the latest innovations in order to provide the best solutions to our customers. Within the Phabuloμs project, Hella looks at highly innovative micro-optics for miniaturizing the existing automotive lighting solutions to enable new design possibilities as well as the reduction of construction space and weight to contribute to an efficiency increase for electric vehicles and autonomous driving.”

The Phabuloμs consortium consists of 19 Companies and RTOs along the whole manufacturing value chain, namely: CSEM as co-ordinator, Johanneum Research, VTT, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, CEA, Suss MicroOptics, Morphotonics, Nanocomp, Wielandts UPMT, Lasea, PowerPhotonic, Limbak, MicroOled, Seisenbacher, Swarovski, Hella, Zumtobel Lighting, EPIC, and Amires.

Phabuloμs has received funding in the order of 15 million euros in the framework of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Grant Agreement nº 871710, in public-private partnership with Photonics 21. (Source: EPIC)

Link: Pilot-line providing highly advanced & robust manufacturing technology for optical free-form μ-structures, PHABULOμS, www.phabulous.eu

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