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3D printing for astronomical mirrors

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posted on 2023-11-30, 20:53 authored by Melanie Roulet, Carolyn Atkins, Emmanuel Hugot, Sabri Lemared, Simona Lombardo, Marc Ferrari
3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, offers a new vision for optical fabrication in term of achievable optical quality and reduction of weight and cost. In this paper we describe two different ways to use this technique in the fabrication process. The first method makes use of 3D printing in the fabrication of warping harnesses for stress polishing, and we apply that to the fabrication of the WFIRST coronagraph off axis parabolas. The second method considers a proof of concept for 3D printing of lightweight X-Ray mirrors, targeting the next generation of X-rays telescopes. Stress polishing is well suited for the fabrication of the high quality off axis parabolas required by the coronagraph to image exoplanets.. Here we describe a new design of warping harness which can generate astigmatism and coma with only one actuator. The idea is to incorporate 3D printing in the manufacturing of the warping harness. The method depicted in this paper demonstrates that we reach the tight precision required at the mirrors surface. Moreover the error introduced by the warping harness fabricated by 3D printing does not impact the final error budget. Concerning the proof of concept project, we investigate 3D printing towards lightweight X-ray mirrors. We present the surface metrology of test samples fabricated by stereo lithography (SLA) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) with different materials. The lightweighting of the samples is composed of a series of arches. By complementing 3D printing with finite element analysis topology optimization we can simulate a specific optimum shape for the given input parameters and external boundary conditions. The next set of prototypes is designed taking to account the calculation of topology optimisation.

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