Glass processing using the laser is state of the art in many industrial areas, and as in the past, it has a high potential for further technology fields, for example display manufacturing for cell phones, where thinner hardened glass needs to precisely cut without damaging it.
Ultrashort pulse lasers (USP) are a promising tool for this application. USP lasers already provide high quality cutting, at cutting speeds of over 500 mm/s. Scientists and manufacturers are presently working intensively on increasing processing speeds, and simultaneously guaranteeing a high processing quality for thinner and thinner glass.
If they can meet the increasing requirements being placed on processing display glass and qualifying the processes, including example sapphire glass materials, glass processing using lasers could further expand on the world market for cell phones.
Processes for laser structuring and drilling of glass materials for façade construction and interior design are also interesting. Flat glass is used as a design element, or as a functionalized, anti-slip surface for bathrooms. Scientists are presently facing the challenge of developing innovative, high power lasers, which are more economical for processing large areas of flat glass.
Apart from laser-based cutting processes, glass welding with and without filler material is growing in importance. After the requirements placed on the strength of laser welded seams for quartz and borosilicate glass could be achieved, and the process rates could be shortened, the scientists are now working on optimizing the powder use rates, on avoiding thermal post-processing and on extending the welding processes to 3-D glass components. This should also greatly expand the application potential.
In summary, the lectures and discussions of the workshop showed that laser processing of glass materials still has a great potential. Among the 70 lecturers and participants were representatives from the field of manufacturing, who presented different systems, from excimer to femtosecond lasers, and who could gather new ideas and impulses in discussions with the scientists and the users.
Following the lectures, the participants were given the opportunity to participate in a tour, where they saw a live demonstration of glass welding using a filler material. The lectures and the tour offered much material for discussions, and during the breaks and the following get-together, intensive discussions were held.
During the meeting, themes for the next edition of the workshop for 2014 were discussed, among others processing optical areas, or changing optical characteristics of glass, and other laser processes.
The workshop has been organized since 2010 by the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Bavarian Laser Center GmbH, and it alternately takes place each year, either in Erlangen or in Hannover.Contact:
You can find the LZH press releases with a WORD-download and when possible illustrations at www.lzh.de under "publications/press releases"
Michael Botts | idw
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