Spectral Systems uses an OptiPro ultrasonic machining center to enhance productivity.
Spectral Systems LLC, based in Hopewell Junction, New York, offers precise infrared (IR) optical components, coatings, systems integration, and services from original concept through final production. The company routinely works with 16 infrared materials and has a broad range of proprietary coating solutions for supplying infrared transmission windows, infrared lenses, mirrors, attenuated total reflectance (ATR) crystals, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) beam splitters, anti-reflection coatings, or infrared microscopy optical elements.
Spectral Systems’ state-of-the-art facility has the latest polishing, coating, and inspection equipment to ensure all optics are fabricated consistently and efficiently.
With the company experiencing continuous growth, management decided to increase capacity by purchasing a CNC milling center. After extensive research, company engineers determined that the OptiPro OptiSonic 830 ultrasonic machining center would meet their manufacturing requirements. Spectral Systems is still at the early stages of putting the machining center into full production, but its employees are already impressed.
“The Optisonic 830 is able to focus on several areas of applications. This is an asset to our production requirements,” says William Weckesser, Spectral Systems’ production manager. “A precise tool path, high-speed cutting and drilling, all while maintaining accuracy and surface quality, is just what we were looking for in shaping crystalline materials. We strive to exceed our customer expectations and we are excited to have this machine to help us do so.”
The OptiSonic 830 integrates the latest ultrasonic technology on a platform that provides 800mm of X-axis travel. The machine is built on a stiff, heavy meehanite base to provide vibration dampening and uses high-quality spindles for reliable performance. Three axes of motion (X, Y, and Z) allow for operations such as lightweighting, pocketing, core drilling, small hole manufacturing, rastering, and deep drilling. The ultrasonic machining capabilities of the OptiSonic 830 allow manufacturers to process materials ranging from soft optical glass – such has BK7 – to hard ceramics, including silicon carbide and sapphire.
Founded more than 30 years ago by Frank Wesley, Spectral Systems got its start making specialized optics for infrared applications. In its infancy, the company focused primarily on providing optical polishing services to customers involved in infrared spectroscopy.
Today, the employee-owned company offers comprehensive capabilities to provide optical solutions for the entire infrared range, from the vacuum ultraviolet (UV) to the far-infrared.
The process of ultrasonic machining involves a cutting tool oscillating at a frequency as high as 30kHz while rotating between 1,000rpm and 18,000rpm. Ultrasonic vibration of a rotating tool allows for free cutting of material, which offers:
OptiPro’s IntelliSonic software for the OptiSonic 830 allows the oscillation of the cutting tool to stay at an optimal level to ensure the machine is performing efficiently and producing predictable results. Two main features of the software deliver this advantage. First, the operator selects the tool used for the job during the initial setup. Subsequently, the software analyzes the tool to determine the ideal oscillating frequency. IntelliSonic’s graphical user interface lets the operator perform this and other aspects of the initial setup. Once the ideal frequency is determined and the cycle starts, IntelliSonic automatically adjusts the frequency based on changing machining conditions in order to maintain the ideal tool oscillation.
As a precision infrared optical components manufacturer, Spectral Systems required a machine that would be able to meet strict tolerances and work with small parts. High quality machine components and proprietary IntelliSonic software on the OptiSonic 830 helps deliver the required precision.
“One capability that stood out for us was the special features of the OptiSonic head. The 830 is capable of fly cutting crystals more than 2,000mm a minute,” Weckesser explains. “Another feature that directed us to this machine was its ability to drill diameters smaller than 1mm in hard and soft crystalline materials and glass types. The Optisonic 830’s ability to perform the most basic to the most complex operations with speed and accuracy will allow us to increase our productivity and optimize our material yields.”
As with any purchase of manufacturing equipment, service and support after the sale from the original equipment manufacturer is critical to ensure customers realize the full potential of the machine as soon as possible. This includes onsite training.
“When it came time for training, we found the OptiPro team as not only knowledgeable and friendly but dedicated to having our team understand and learn how to operate the machine,” Weckesser says. “They even went a step further and established benchmarks for us to work with. Our success at Spectral Systems with the Optisonic 830 is in great part due to the training technicians at OptiPro.”
One recent job highlighted the benefits of the OptiSonic 830 for Spectral Systems’ core drilling of Zinc Selenide (ZnSe). ZnSe is a medium refractive-index material with good long-wavelength transmission in the infrared. It is a popular material choice for transmission analysis of aqueous samples as it is insoluble in water. ZnSe is a relatively hard and durable material and has replaced Germanium (Ge) in most military applications such as thermal imaging. ZnSe is also used in very high power laser systems.
Spectral Systems needed to produce 5" long and 3mm in diameter ZnSe rods. (Pictured on pg. 26) Because of the fragile nature of these parts, the stability and precision of the OptiSonic 830, along with OptiPro’s ultrasonic technology, were significant factors in order to meet production requirements.
Spectral Systems used a 5.5" long core drill that performed a straight Z-axis feed into the ZnSe blank. Once the tool finished the plunge, the parts were carefully extracted from the ZnSe material. Minimal runout (less than 4µm) on the parts as well as the quality of the surface finish allowed the rods to be sent directly to polishing without any secondary process, enhancing overall efficiency and yield from material.
More complex geometries – such as a calcium fluoride crystal with a series of wells and micron precision steps – can be reproduced all in one setup using tools for multiple operations stored in the 30-tool magazine.
To supply various structural components used in the manufacture of engine pylon fairings for the Embraer E175-E2 aircraft.
Company's current backlog increases to $11.1 million.
The Inaugural Integrated Industries Conference on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 will bring together industry experts with the goal of addressing solutions to current manufacturing concerns, sharing new trends & best practices, and ultimately helping companies thrive in today’s dynamic manufacturing environment.
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