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Pilot-line providing highly advanced & robust manufacturing technology for optical free-form micro-structures

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PHABULOUS (Pilot-line providing highly advanced & robust manufacturing technology for optical free-form micro-structures)

Berichtszeitraum: 2021-01-01 bis 2022-06-30

Miniaturized optical components are a key enabler for novel photonics applications in a wide range of markets, including AR/VR and lighting in a variety of settings. This has led to the exponential growth the micro-optics market is currently experiencing.

The demand is also increasing for free-form micro-optical components, however, the access barriers to this technology are rather high and pilot scale production capabilities that are accessible for industry, in particular for SME’s and start-ups, are scarce.

The aim of the PHABULOuS project is to set up a self-sustainable pilot line for the design and manufacturing of free-form micro-optical components and their integration into high added-value products. The consortium helps to translate innovative ideas into micro-optical solutions and industrially relevant processes and makes available the pre-commercial production capabilities that can demonstrate the viability of future photonics applications.

In summary, the following work has been realized in the reporting period, up to M30:

The legal framework of the PHABULOuS Pilot Line Association as well as the governing bodies have been established. The Pilot Line is operational and is involved in customer relations (CRM supported) including pilot case aquisition, online community management, dissimination at exhibitions and online interactions. The evaluation processes for pilot case proposals have been established, the PL Open Call has been issued, and first proposals have been evaluated.

The technical acceleration phase is close to finalization, with last deliverables to be submitted before the end of 2022. At M30 the consortium has almost done all the foreseen work for the acceleration phase, which has led the consortium to better work together with clear procedures in place. The consortium’s collaborative competences can now be offered to interested companies.

Work on the project use cases is ongoing, with some delays that were caused by various reasons, including COVID slow-downs and technical design changes. The finalization of use case demonstrators is foreseen for Q4-2022 and Q1-2023, at which point these demonstrators will become an important support of our dissemination and customer acquisition activities.

Dissemination and customer acquisition activities are intensively pursued in 2022, actively promoting the capabilities of the PHABULOuS pilot line at numerous conferences and exhibits, including a wide range of online events. After the forced cancellation of a number of in-person events due to the pandemic in previous year, this activity has recently been intensified and led to a steadily increasing number of interactions with potential customers.
PHABULOuS has the ambition to provide industry with easy access to a high-level state-of-the-art pilot line and related services and will
• offer access to design and simulation platforms that will accelerate design process by 90%
• benchmark the available characterization equipment and create characterization procedures
• extend the capabilities of the origination technologies beyond the state-of-the–art
• optimize the S+R process to achieve seamless and durable tools for large-area replication
• provide three different technologies for UV replication
• aim to offer customized UV imprint material formulations
• provide integrated services for optical coatings on micro-structured surfaces

Expected impacts:
• Sustainable European pilot line for optical free-form micro-structures: aim of PHABULOuS is to create the infrastructure for pilot manufacturing of free-form micro-optical components.
Management: the operational structure of the PHABULOuS Pilot Line Association was defined and a detailed business plan will be outlined.
Offering: The PHABULOuS pilot line will be offering a broad portfolio of services. Based on the customer´s request, a customized set of services will be offered and implemented.
Business development: A dedicated business development team will be established and a European ecosystem will be created.
Economic impact: During the project, the pilot line will focus on the implementation of at least 6 use cases and 20 pilot cases. Final aim will be to reach full sustainability.
•Customer approach - Significant time to market reduction thanks to accelerated pilot line processes: PHABULOuS addresses the reduction of the time to market through optimized customer handling as well manufacturing flows
•Increased competitiveness of European industry through improved photonics technology uptake: The PHABULOuS pilot line will provide SMEs and mid-caps with an easily accessible set of services and encourage large companies to undertake more disruptive innovations.