Advanced techniques for robotic polishing of aluminum mirrors

Hongyu Li, David Walker, Xiao Zheng, Guoyu Yu, Christina Reynolds, Wang Zhang, Tony Li

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Aluminum (pure or alloy) mirrors attract increasing interest, having Young's Modulus and density similar to glasses. Advantage of high diffusivity offsets disadvantage of high thermal expansion coefficient and means that the mirror reaches thermal equilibrium rapidly. High ductility supports extreme light-weighting and complex machining, including fluid-cooling channels in high-energy applications, and integral interface components. Aluminum mirrors are also tolerant to vibrations and shock loads. The material is amenable to single point diamond turning (SPDT) and does not require optical coating. However, SPDT tends to produce mid-spatial frequency artefacts, which are difficult to remove, especially for aspheres and free-forms. These introduce diffraction effects and compromise stray light performance. 

In our previous research, we have demonstrated the potential of industrial robots to automate manual interventions with CNC polishing machines, and to provide surface-processing capabilities in their own right. We have also presented research concerning the mismatch between rigid and semi-rigid tools (including non-Newtonian tools), and aspheric surfaces. In this paper, we report on polishing of spherical and aspheric aluminum mirrors using an industrial robot. This includes tool-design, tool-path generation, texture control and removal of the mid-spatial frequency artefacts. We have investigated removal-rates and textures achieved, using different specialized slurries, polishing pads and special tool-paths. An effective process has been established, achieving Sa of 5nm on a 400mm square witness sample and a 490mm elliptical off-axis parabolic mirror.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOptical Fabrication, Testing, and Metrology VI
EditorsSven Schröder, Roland Geyl
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic) 9781510619227
ISBN (Print)9781510619210
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2018
EventSPIE Optical Systems Design - Frankfurt, Germany
Duration: 14 May 201817 May 2018
Conference number: VI (Link to Conference Details)

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


ConferenceSPIE Optical Systems Design
Internet address


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