Precision Surface Processing and Software Modelling Using Shear-Thickening Polishing Slurries

  • Yuan Li

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Mid-spatial frequency surface error is a known manufacturing defect for aspherical and freeform precision surfaces. These surface ripples decrease imaging contrast and system signal-to-noise ratio. Existing sub-aperture polishing techniques are limited in their abilities to smooth mid-spatial frequency errors. Shear-thickening slurries have been hypothesised to reduce mid-spatial frequency errors on precision optical surfaces by increasing the viscosity at the tool-part interface.

Currently, controlling the generation and mitigating existing mid-spatial frequency surface errors for aspherical and freeform surfaces requires extensive setup and the experience of seasoned workers. This thesis reports on the experimental trials of shear-thickening polishing slurries on glass surfaces. By incorporating shear-thickening slurries with the precessed bonnet technology, the aim is to enhance the ability of the precessions technology in mitigating mid-spatial frequency errors.

The findings could facilitate a more streamlined manufacturing chain for precision optics for the versatile precessions technology from form correction and texture improvement, to MSF mitigation, without needing to rely on other polishing technologies. Such improvement on the existing bonnet polishing would provide a vital steppingstone towards building a fully autonomous manufacturing cell in a market of continual economic growth.

The experiments in this thesis analysed the capabilities of two shear-thickening slurry systems: (1) polyethylene glycol with silica nanoparticle suspension, and (2) water and cornstarch suspension. Both slurry systems demonstrated the ability at mitigating existing surface ripples. Looking at power spectral density graphs, polyethylene glycol slurries reduced the power of the mid-spatial frequencies by ~50% and cornstarch suspension slurries by 60-90%.

Experiments of a novel polishing approach are also reported in this thesis to rotate a precessed bonnet at a predetermined working distance above the workpiece surface. The rapidly rotating tool draws in the shear-thickening slurry through the gap to stiffen the fluid for polishing. This technique demonstrated material removal capabilities using cornstarch suspension slurries at a working distance of 1.0-1.5mm. The volumetric removal rate from this process is ~5% of that of contact bonnet polishing, so this aligns more as a finishing process. This polishing technique was given the term rheological bonnet finishing.

The rheological properties of cornstarch suspension slurries were tested using a rheometer and modelled through CFD simulation. Using the empirical rheological data, polishing simulations of the rheological bonnet finishing process were modelled in Ansys to analyse the effects of various input parameters such as working distance, tool headspeed, precess angle, and slurry viscosity.
Date of Award30 Nov 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDavid Walker (Main Supervisor) & Guoyu Yu (Co-Supervisor)

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