Request for Information

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The American Center for Optics Manufacturing (AmeriCOM) Defense Precision Optics Consortium (DPOC) is seeking information from industry and academia to assist with the identification of areas or technologies within precision optics manufacturing that present significant challenges to manufacturers. This information will be used to develop a research and development (R&D) agenda for upcoming funding allocation.

This is a request for information only and responses are not accepted as official proposals. Once identification of needed research areas is complete, proposals will be solicited to address specific needs in a separate effort.

Overview

AmeriCOM has two primary purposes. The first is to eliminate the national shortage of qualified optics technicians by partnering with community colleges to create a national network of precision optics training programs based on the Optical Systems Training program currently running at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY.

The second purpose is to create an industry-led cooperative with government and academia focused on continuous improvement to drive the development of optics manufacturing systems.  This program will implement advances critical to the defense industry and provide optics manufacturers with next generation capabilities. This is similar to the work that the Center for Optics Manufacturing (COM) performed from 1990-2004, which resulted in the development and implementation of now-widely-used technologies such as deterministic micro-grinding and magnetorheological finishing. AmeriCOM plans to use a similar industry-led model to solve pervasive defense industrial base needs regarding next-generation manufacturing systems.

This request for information is relevant to the second purpose described above. To ensure that the work and funding AmeriCOM provides is in line with what would provide the greatest benefit to the precision optics industrial base, AmeriCOM requests information from precision optics manufacturers and academic researchers across the country.

Scope of Effort

The U.S. Department of Defense has identified two areas of specific interest for increased precision optics R&D: directed energy systems and hypersonic systems.AmeriCOM has also identified other areas of interest related to manufacturing and design challenges currently ubiquitous in the industry. These are listed below and are intended to generate ideas for potential topics rather than to limit ideas to these specific systems.

  • Greater fabrication accuracy, including the removal, application, and measurement of single layers of atoms on a bulk substrate
  • Ultra-accurate fabrication, including traditional optics geometries and systems that are off-axis and/or use asymmetry, prismatic, conformal/freeform, non-traditional geometries, and at the extremes of precision and size. New methods and equipment for fabrication and the metrology of these unique geometries.
  • Fabrication of difficult to work materials, including improved methods for fabricating currently-known materials like diamond, sapphire, carbides, and metal matrix composites.
  • Development of new IR materials with broadband spectral response and improved thermo-mechanical properties
  • Improved understanding of the material response to fabrication processes at the tool/part interface, leading to improved material processing techniques
  • Metrology, especially including generalized systems for measuring large conformal optics during fabrication and post-thin film coating
  • Thin film coatings, including low absorption laser coatings, and improved understanding of the science behind thin film coating adhesion and durability
  • New optical materials, including new chalcogenide and ceramic materials, metal matrix oxides, AlBe alternatives, plastics and mold releases for precision glass molding. Improved opto-thermo-mechanical property infrared materials.
  • Design tools, including the implementation of new design rules enabled by technological improvements in the body of knowledge utilized in optical design
  • Additive manufacturing of precision optics
  • Molding of precision optics, including larger optics, multiple optics, and new materials

Topics submitted may be selected for further evaluation and/or funding by AmeriCOM. Selection criteria will include at least the breadth of the impact of the solution to the problem, the risk of success, the likely duration of the development of a solution and the expected cost. It is expected that the AmeriCOM research portfolio will include a mixture of short term, quick result and long term, high reward, higher risk projects. Extra consideration will be given to topics that are consistent with an industrial team-based approach and that have an identified DoD program as a target for implementation.

For context in a later request for proposal phase – a phased approach will be preferred, starting with a Phase 1 feasibility demonstration. If Phase 1 is successful, it may be followed by a Phase 2 for further development of the concept. While not a specific limit, it is expected that Phase 1 projects will be scoped to group around awards of $150,000 and take approximately 6-9 months to complete. Larger awards may be considered, if justified by their scope and potential.

RFI responses need not be limited to the phased approach model. For industry RFI submissions, the near-term implementation path (post the feasibility demonstration) of the concept in industry must be considered and discussed in some detail.

Response Guidelines

Responses to this RFI inquiry are intended to be short explanations of the potential R&D topics of most interest to your organization. There is no limit to the number of topics you may respond to, though no more than 1-3 is preferred. It is requested that responses be less than 1 page. A response form is provided below. Responding organizations may format their submission differently if more/different information is pertinent. See the section below to upload your files. Responses longer than the requested 1 page format risk delay in their evaluation. It is expected that analysis of the first RFI inputs will be completed by the end of July, and that the first round of RFPs will be issued in early August, 2022 with very short response due dates. Project funding decisions will be made shortly after the proposals are analyzed. The RFI will remain open through Q3 and Q4 of 2022. Additional rounds of RFPs are expected through the end of 2022.

Confidentiality Agreement

In accepting and responding to this RFI, vendors agree to the following conditions, under USA law:

Each party recognizes and agrees that Confidential Information has been compiled, created and maintained by special effort and expense of the other party.

Each party recognizes and agrees that disclosing or disseminating Confidential Information to a third party may have a materially adverse effect on the other party and agrees not to disclose or disseminate the Confidential Information to any third party. Except as necessary to perform its obligations described in this document, each party shall not use, reproduce, or draw upon the Confidential Information or circulate it within its own organization.

AmeriCOM will not disclose the individual responses to this RFI to third parties except as needed to perform its obligations as described in this document. Proprietary information and trade secrets, if any, must be clearly marked on all materials. All information received in this request that is marked “Proprietary” will be handled accordingly. At this time, it is not possible for us to accept classified information.

Request for Information Form

Request for Information Form

Are you an optics company or academic institution?
Technical point of contact name:
Technical point of contact name:
Is this something your company is already conducting research to develop?
Is this something your company is able to research, given adequate funding?
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