Lasers with ultrashort pulses in the picosecond and femtosecond range are often referred to as ultrafast lasers. They are known for their ultra-precise ablation and cutting results. Unfortunately, processing with such lasers takes time. To address this issue, a new research project, funded by the European Commission, aims to make material processing with ultrafast lasers up to a hundred times faster.
Ultrashort pulsed (USP) or ultrafast lasers can do something very unique: They ablate almost any material without causing a thermal load of the adjacent material.
Their cuts are smooth and melt-free, even on a micron scale. All of this makes ultrafast lasers very interesting for industries such as tool making, where hard materials must be processed very precisely.
In recent years, much progress has been made in developing ultrafast laser sources: Lasers with higher average power, higher pulse energy or higher repetition rate have become available.
They have been complemented by beam delivery systems, either based on ultrafast scanners or some special diffractive optical elements (DOE), that spread one beam into a pattern of many identical beamlets.
Although laser sources and beam delivery systems have improved remarkably, there is still room to grow, in particular when it comes to high-power lasers and high-efficiency processing technology.
The optical dot-matrix printer
A consortium of six partners from industry and research is now planning the next step in the development of the USP-laser process technology.
They will develop a powerful 1 kW laser source and combine it with a special optical system that delivers a pattern of more than 60 switchable beamlets. One can see this as a late descendant of the dot-matrix printer.
The consortium consists of the research institute Fraunhofer ILT and the RWTH Aachen University from Germany as well as Amplitude Systèmes, LASEA France, AA Opto-Electronic from France and LASEA from Belgium as industrial research and development partners.
The European Commission is supporting the project, named “MultiFlex”, within the framework of the program ICT-04-2018 for three years with an amount of € 4.7 million.
Delivery: High-end system ready for industrial use
The partners are looking beyond the already challenging system components: They intend to deliver a prototype with all the necessary control technology ready for the shop floor. It will start with a 1 kW laser machine that can deliver up to 1 mJ pulse energy either at the regular 1 MHz repetition rate or in a burst mode with less than 20 ns pulse separation.
The optical system converts the single laser beam into a pattern of more than 60 beamlets, where each single beamlet can be turned on and off separately. The resulting pattern can be directed onto the workpiece with a fast scanner. The complex system will be complemented by an industry grade control unit.
The resulting prototype will undergo an extensive series of tests and be validated in use cases provided by associated industrial end users. It has already been estimated that the prototype will improve the productivity by about 100 fold compared to current standard ultrafast laser processing systems.
This will not only allow for significant progress in the tool making industry, but also opens up new perspectives for the application of ultrafast lasers for the texturing and functionalization of large surfaces.
This project receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 825201.
Dr. Johannes Finger
Group Micro- and Nano Structuring
Telephone +49 241 8906-472
Petra Nolis M.A. | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
Exotic spiraling electrons discovered by physicists
19.02.2019 | Rutgers University
Astronomers publish new sky map detecting hundreds of thousands of previously unknown galaxies
19.02.2019 | Universität Bielefeld
Up to now, OLEDs have been used exclusively as a novel lighting technology for use in luminaires and lamps. However, flexible organic technology can offer much more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a wide variety of materials, not just to modify but to revolutionize the functionality and design of countless existing products. To exemplify this, the Fraunhofer FEP together with the company EMDE development of light GmbH will be presenting hybrid flexible OLEDs integrated into textile designs within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE for the first time at LOPEC (March 19-21, 2019 in Munich, Germany) as examples of some of the many possible applications.
The Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of...
For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.
The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...
Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens
Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...
Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light
When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...
The so-called Abelian sandpile model has been studied by scientists for more than 30 years to better understand a physical phenomenon called self-organized...
11.02.2019 | Event News
30.01.2019 | Event News
16.01.2019 | Event News
19.02.2019 | Information Technology
19.02.2019 | Health and Medicine
19.02.2019 | Trade Fair News