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UV Curing Optical Cement

Introduction

Opti 421

Daniel Lam November 16, 2007

UV curing optical cement is an adhesive that cures quickly under UV light. It can be used to bond together many optical elements made from a variety of materials such as glass and plastic. This technical memo will describe different products of UV curing optical cement as well as provide an overview of the properties associated with it. The memo will also cover how to apply and remove the adhesive, provide some companies that sell this material, as well as describe some advantages and limitations to using UV curable optical cement.

Characteristics

UV curing optical cement is an adhesive that is highly absorptive in the ultraviolet wavelengths—approximately 254-378 nm. By exposing it to UV light, the material quickly hardens and making it a good adhesive for quick bonding. The cement is also transparent in the visible to the near infrared spectrum as well. Additionally, UV curing optical cement exhibits good resistance to high temperature and high humidity. The adhesive also cures quickly within a few seconds when applying a UV source over the bond. However, this is only considered “pre-cure” for some cement types such as Summers Optical J-91 and P92 types. For these types of UV adhesives, it may take about an hour for it to fully cure.

Applications

These adhesives can be used in a variety of applications ranging from optoelectronics, glass to glass bonding, fiber optic bonding, fiber splicing, lens bonding, attaching ceramics, quartz, plastics, and metal components together.

How to Apply

The adhesive is fairly simple to apply and there are different techniques used depending on the geometry. First of all, UV curing cements do no require mixing unlike their two component adhesive counterparts. The general procedure is to apply the cement, rotate the center axis of the upper element around the center axis of the lower element, allow the extra adhesive to run-off and get rid of air bubbles. Then a UV light source is held over the object at about 1 in away and held there for a few seconds.

For small precision bonding the adhesive is applied drop wise to the center of one surface. The second surface is lowered at a slight angle onto the adhesive-laden surface and light pressure is used to work the adhesive out to the edges as shown in figure A.

For square and rectangular laminates, the adhesive is applied in an "X" pattern from corner to corner. Additional drops are added to the center of the X. The two sheets are laminated starting at one end to push the adhesive and air out in front of it. When the second surface is brought into contact the adhesive in the center spreads out in a circular fashion and the corners also have adhesive without trapping air bubbles as shown in figure B.

For large laminates a thin layer of adhesive should be applied to the whole surface using a draw bar or rollercoaster. The two sheets are laminated starting at one end to push the adhesive and air out in front of it as shown in figure C.

For small precision bonding the adhesive is applied drop wise to the center of one surface.

Figures are from Norland Products.

How to Remove

Several methods can be used to remove the adhesives. The easiest and simplest method is to immerse the lens in a solvent such as methylene chloride. Usually small lenses can be separated easily before it is cured by an overnight soak. However, fully cured lenses will take longer because the adhesive is more densely packed in the center and slows the solvent from reaching the center. To separate and break these bonds, a slight thermo shock may be used. This is when the lens is heated to about 150 o F and then quickly immersed in the solvent. The sudden contraction will break some of the bonds allowing the solvent to reach the center.

Alternately, the glass can be heated until the bonds break and the glass separates. One can heat the glass in hot oil at 400 o F and in a few minutes the bonds will separate. Heating the glass in a vacuum or a heated sand bath will also work as well, but it requires higher temperatures. Sometimes at these higher temperatures the glass may not be able to withstand the heat. Thus, one should take caution when attempting these heated methods.

Where to buy

There are a variety of locations to buy this product and the costs are fairly cheap ranging from about $15-75 a bottle depending on the quantity and use. Below is table 1 with

some companies that sell UV curing optical cement as well as their webpage to contact them.

Company

Website

EMS Summers Optical

http://www.emsdiasum.com/summers/optical/cements/default.htm

Norland Products

http://www.norlandprod.com/

Dymax

 
 

http://www.dymax.com/ Table 1. List of companies and their websites.

Product Variations

There are numerous types of UV curing cement depending on the application and strength required. For this part, the information about the UV cement use and properties are taken from Norland Products and listed below.

PRODUCT

DESCRIPTION - SIZE

General purpose adhesive for bonding doublets, prisms or mounting components.

Preferred adhesive for military optics. Meets MIL-A-3920. Used for optics exposed to

temperature extremes. Low shrinkage.

Cures well in thick sections. Use as a fillet bond to hold lenses in place or for bonding

where low fluorescence or good transmission in UV range is required.

Flexible adhesive suitable for low strain applications or for cold blocking of lenses.

Flexible adhesive for glass or plastics such as polycarbonate CAB or acrylic.

Provides a strong bond to glass surfaces and has excellent clarity for light guides and

other applications.

Low viscosity adhesive for bonding glass or plastics such as polycarbonate, CAB or

acrylic. Cures with UV or visible light.

Flexible adhesive with low viscosity for bonding delicate parts.

Very low viscosity adhesive used for bonding CAB, glass and other plastics.

Low viscosity adhesive used for bonding polarized and polyester film, nylon, glass and

other plastics.

Recommended for bonding glass to plastic.

Recommended for bonding plastic to plastic or glass to plastic.

Fast curing adhesive for tacking or bonding. Excellent adhesion to glass or metal.

Produces a hard, resilient bond.

Fast curing adhesive that will cure with UV or heat for tacking or bonding UV opaque

materials.

Low outgassing adhesive for aerospace or electronic applications. Excellent

 

transmission in UV range.

Table 2. Norland UV Adhesives and their uses. Information taken from Norland site.

ADHESION TO: TYPICAL PROPERTIES Viscosity at 25 Degrees Refractive Modulus Tensile Elongation Shore D Type Cure
ADHESION TO:
TYPICAL PROPERTIES
Viscosity at
25 Degrees
Refractive
Modulus
Tensile
Elongation
Shore D
Type
Cure
Glass
Metal
Plastic
Color
C
Index
PSI
PSI
at Failure
Hardness
NOA
UV
Good
Good
Fair
Clear
300
CPS
1.56
135,000
2,800
35%
81
60
NOA
UV
Excellent
Excellent
Fair
Clear
300
CPS
1.56
150,000
3,000
38%
85
61
NOA
UV
Good
Good
Fair
Clear
2,500 CPS
1.56
240,000
5,000
6%
90
63
NOA
UV
Good
Good
Fair
Clear
1,000 CPS
1.52
20,000
1,500
80%
50
65
NOA
UV
Excellent
Good
Good to
Clear
5,000 CPS
1.54
20,000
2,500
80%
60
68
Excellent
NOA
UV
Excellent
Excellent
Fair
Clear
200
CPS
1.56
55,000
1,300
43%
86
71
NOA
UV/
Excellent
Good
Good to
Clear
155
CPS
1.56
2,400
500
34%
75
72
VIS
Excellent
NOA
UV
Excellent
Good
Fair
Clear
140
CPS
1.56
1,600
200
16%
60
73
NOA
UV
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Clear
80-95 cps
1.52
2900
217
10%
30
74
to Good
NOA
UV/
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Slight
80-95 cps
1.52
2610
164
7%
25
75
VIS
to Good
Yellow
Tint
NOA
UV/
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Clear
4,500 CPS
1.51
970 450
47%
30
76
VIS
NOA
UV/
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Yellow
9,000 CPS
1.50
1140 649
57%
55
78
VIS
Tint
NOA
UV
Excellent
Excellent
Fair
Clear
300
CPS
1.56
200,000
3,000
25%
90
81
NOA
UV/
Excellent
Excellent
Fair
Clear
250
CPS
1.56
160,000
3,500
30%
85
83H
HEAT
NOA
UV
Excellent
Excellent
Fair
Clear
250
CPS
1.56
112,000
1,900
43%
90
88

Table 3. Optical Properties of Norland Product’s Optical Adhesives from Norland.

As one can see, the index of refraction is constant at 1.56. There are various strengths as seen in the large changes in modulus. However, the tensile strength is between 2000- 3000 psi for most of the adhesives. As for CTE, many of Norland’s UV adhesives are

UV Curing Optical Cement

Lam

4

around 240 ppm/ o C. Shrinkage percentages around for these products are between 0.25-

4%.

Advantages and Limitations

There are many advantages to using UV curable optical cements. There are a wide application in opto-mechanical assemblies. It allows one to align and check the assemblies before bonding and has a quick cure time to hold the alignment in place. It works in a wide variety of compounds to produce coatings, bonds, and can function in a large range of temperatures from -80 o to 350 o F. Furthermore, UV systems curve substrates a much lower temperatures compared to thermal ovens and can cure with only a brief temperature change. Plus UV curing does not pollute making it economically attractive.

ome disadvantages to UV curing is that it requires a UV lamp and the substance must be exposable to UV. UV light can be dangerous after prolonged exposure as well as it can damage certain materials. Additionally, UV light works really well with small bonds, but it will not be as effective with larger bonds as the light has to penetrate through the material.