Nikon Corporation Advanced Manufacturing Business Unit
Nikon Corporation Next Generation Project Division

Ultra-high precision surface processing using a laser

Overview of precision subtractive processing
Nikon's optical subtractive processing machine utilizes technologies developed for our key business of semiconductor lithography systems, which are said to be the most precise machinery in history, to realize a machine that performs a completely new type of high precision surface processing and fine processing. This section introduces solutions that this machine can provide.
Precision subtractive processing
Optical subtractive processing machine that utilizes technologies developed for semiconductor lithography systems

High precision subtractive processing

Subtractive processing consists of irradiating the object to be processed with an ultra-short pulse laser and feeding back the surface shape captured by the built-in precision measuring equipment to the processing conditions. Repeatedly performing it achieves high precision flat surface processing and fine processing with sub-micron level geometrical tolerances.
Process that was conventionally performed using multiple machines can now be performed by one machine that repeats processing and measurement to achieve the desired precision.
Global coordinates systemGlobal coordinates system
Precise coordinate system maintained by auto-calibration function
In-situ 3D measurement & feedback processingIn-situ 3D measurement & feedback processing
Measurement and processing automatically repeated until specified target values reached

High precision subtractive processing can be performed easily

Measuring equipment is installed in this machine to enable in-situ measurement, so the setup work performed on a typical processing machine that requires worker skills, such as positioning of the object to be processed, is not required. Furthermore, processing using a laser does not require a tool to be pressed against the workpiece so the process of setting up the workpiece in a jig when performing actual processing is not required, and tool wear does not occur so costs are expected to be reduced due to overall shortened processing times. In addition, highly specialized knowledge is not required since processing data is automatically created just by entering the data designed and drafted using CAD, thus reducing preparation processing.
Processes performed when using the optical subtractive processing machineProcesses performed when using the optical subtractive processing machine
The user just sets the workpiece, sets conditions and loads the CAD model. From there, the machine performs everything automatically.

Various materials supported

Employs an ultra-short pulse laser that does not cause heat damage on the target object. Processing of various materials is possible, from common metals to difficult-to-process hard materials such as carbides, diamonds and optical glass and easily broken materials such as ceramics. Typical materials that can be processed are shown below.
List of materials that can be processed
List of materials processable by the optical subtractive processing machine (example)

Measurement data utilization contributes to DX

Capturing and utilizing precise measurement data of the surface being processed means that re-measurement is not required in the next process. Furthermore, retaining the measurement data of all processed products and utilizing it in quality control and process control contributes to DX, e.g. automation of production lines, and unmanned operation etc.
Precision subtractive processing that contributes to DXPrecision subtractive processing that contributes to DX
Processing in next and subsequent steps performed more smoothly by collecting and utilizing measurement data during processing

Examples of processing