DBM Group are a Canadian company, established in Quebec in 1972, the main product being at that time nickel needles to mould catadioptric inserts. Year after year, DBM have accumulated expertise in the domain of precise machining and moulding of optical components. A passionate team of development and manufacturing engineers allow DBM and their customers to benefit as projects are brought to fruition.
By the early 1980s, DBM Reflex began manufacturing injection moulds for retro-reflectors, and in the late ’90s DBM began designing optical systems for their customers. In 2007 they started making optical components for non-automotive companies, and later expanded that service to include automotive customers. In 2014 DBM Optix’s incorporation became official.
DBM currently employ 400 people and operate mainly in the automotive industry, more specifically in automotive lighting and signalling. There are two main activities grouped under the names DBM Reflex and DBM Optix. From DBM Reflex come moulds and tools; from DBM Optix come optical components.
DBM Reflex operates in two buildings. Since April 2019 the electroforming and plating activities have moved to a new facility with state-of-the-art plating equipment. The other plant houses the mouldmaking activity and the new expanded optical insert manufacturing. This includes a new white room for optical machining and a metrology area for high-precison measurements on moulded optics and mould inserts.
There are also two DBM Optix sites. One is dedicated to thick lenses, silicone optics, and special products. The second plant is dedicated to light pipes and light screens. There are two photometric laboratories fully equipped to measure according to ECE, SAE, and other standards and regulations.
DBM have developed their own SIMOPTIC optical simulation software for the development of optical lenses and light guides mainly dedicated to the automotive market and lighting in general. SIMOPTIC is very powerful, with tools to make correlations between moulded parts and actual lab results. They also have three diamond machining centres.
The great expertise of DBM allows to machine free-form surfaces with mirrored finishes with Ra up to 3.0 nm and precisons of 0.15mm peak to valley. This same expertise allows to make the optical inserts required for complex and precise optical shape moulding, often required in light pixelisation solutions. This equipment allow DBM to machine diffractive optics. All diamond cutting centers and related CMM are installed in a dedicated room with temperature control within ±0.1°C.
Electroforming from single mandrels, machined with great precision: This technology allows to reproduce the surface of an original piece (of a master) in nanometres. DBM have the ability to electroplate alloys suitable for diamond cutting up to several millimetres thick on optical inserts, and to make measurements at the nanometre level.
Ribs, shapes and roughness are measured on both inserts and moulded plastic parts. For this, the available equipment includes high-precision CMM (up to 0.7 microns), laser scanning microscopes, and contactless dot scanning allowing the measurements of transparent parts.
DBM OPTIX have developed Dual-Step™ technology and other multilayer moulding technologies for molding thick optical lenses in extremely short cycle times. These technologies are particularly suitable for high volume productions. About thirty of the latest-generation injection machines on site are perfectly adapted to optical components and ranging from 100T up to 650T and from 1 to 3 sleeves. Laser degating is used on most of the products. Artificial vision for quality control of appearance defects is used where warranted.
DBM can also do compressio moulding, as necessary for parts with large thickness variations. Silicone moulding is another DBM capability attractive to customers interested in silicone optics.
In the Silicone area DBM offer one-stop shopping: the tooling, the optical insert, and the production of moulded parts are all handled in-house.
TEXILIT™ is a DBM technology to make surfaces evenly lit when backlit with LEDs. In it, the optical structures are analysed and mould inserts are made. The great advantage is to have a molded screen with normal molding means giving a piece with exceptional optical characteristics.