Project FLOIM

Novel manufacturing chains for high quality integrated optical devices.

Miniaturized, optoelectronic devices are nowadays used in an increasing number of applications, but their manufacturing processes are under pressure to reduce their costs and increase flexibility. The production of optoelectronic devices is a time-consuming process and consists of multiple steps, such as manufacturing, pretreatment, positioning, alignment, mounting and encapsulation of the various optoelectronic components.

Improving the cost efficiency and flexibility of the fully integrated optoelectronic manufacturing process is the main objective of the FLOIM project. The central concept on which the project is based on the overmoulding of optical grade thermoplastic polymers directly onto the active optoelectronic components, in a mold incorporating the geometric micro- and nano-functions, which provide the polymer surface with the required optical functions. This concept is based on the proven injection molding technology that enables optical embedding in one step. This one-step process replaces a number of operations that are usually required in the production of optoelectronics. Also, the number of assembled components will decrease, as elements such as optical diffusers or gratings can be injection molded directly into the part. The single-step optical embedding will be enabled by close collaboration between the consortium partners from different fields: tool technology, injection molding process development, optical design, sensor development, optical inspection and advanced process control.

The FLOIM project funded by the Horizon2020 Framework Programme for Research & Innovation will explore the possibilities offered by this new manufacturing process through three different demonstrators already on the market, a reading head for an optical encoder for contact-free detection and positioning, a fiber optic transceiver with a combined transmitter-receiver module, and a backlight unit (backlight unit ) for a flexible LCD screen.

The main role of Promolding in the FLOIM project is optimization of process parameters for the overmoulding of opto-electrical components for demonstration products and drawing up design rules of both process, material and product to ensure maximum optical quality.