Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT

Partner for Innovations

Fraunhofer ILT - for more than 35 years this abbreviation has stood for bundled know-how in the field of laser technology. Innovative solutions for manufacturing and production tasks, development of new technical components, competent consultation and education, highly specialized personnel, state-of-the-art technology and international references: These are the guarantees for long-term partnerships. The numerous customers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT come from industries such as automotive and mechanical engineering, chemistry and electrical engineering, aircraft construction, precision mechanics, medical technology and optics. With over 480 employees, more than 19,500 m² of net floor space and more than 40 spin-offs, Fraunhofer ILT is one of the most important contract research and development institutes in its field worldwide.

Under one roof, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT offers research and development, system design and quality assurance, consultation and education. Numerous industrial laser systems from various manufacturers as well as an extensive infrastructure are available for research and development work. In the adjacent Digital Photonic Production DPP research campus, companies cooperating with Fraunhofer ILT work in their own laboratories and offices. The basis for this special form of technology transfer is a long-term cooperation agreement with the institute in the area of research and development. Benefits include the use of the technical infrastructure and the exchange of information with local experts. In addition to established laser manufacturers and innovative laser users, start-ups from the fields of special plant engineering, laser manufacturing technology and laser measurement technology find a suitable environment here for the industrial implementation of their ideas.

Fraunhofer ILT is integrated into the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, which is one of the leading research institutions in Germany with 76 institutes, around 30,000 employees and an annual research volume of 2.9 billion euros.

Opening Up New Perspectives

Adjustment of a beam splitter.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.
Adjustment of a beam splitter.

The R&D activities encompass a wide range of topics in laser technology, covering 12 technology focus areas: Customers from research and industry benefit from extensive expertise and valuable know-how in the areas of “Lasers”, “Optical Systems”, “Quantum Technology”, “Laser Measurement Technology”, “Additive Manufacturing”, “Surface Technology”, “Joining”, “Cutting”, “System Technology”, “Digitalization”, “EUV and Plasma Technology” and “Medical Technology”.

Our scientists develop application-adapted optical components, laser systems and laser beam sources with tailored output powers as well as spatial, temporal and spectral properties. The spectrum ranges from free-form optics, tunable lasers, diode and solid-state lasers to fiber and ultrafast lasers.

Key topics include the development of laser systems that operate reliably and maintenance-free in extreme environmental conditions, as well as high-power ultrafast laser systems for demanding tasks in production. In addition to the development, production and integration of components and systems, Fraunhofer ILT is also involved in optics design, simulation, modeling, packaging and scanner technology. Together with excellent partners from German and international research and industry, Fraunhofer ILT develops laser-based solutions for the application of new quantum technologies. These include photon sources with high signal-to-noise ratios and frequency converters that preserve quantum properties, as well as integrated optical components and packaging processes - especially for use in the fields of quantum computing, quantum internet or quantum metrology.

Laser-based joining processes such as welding, soldering and micro joining are used and further developed for numerous applications in micro and macro technology. In the field of cutting technology, the focus is on customer-oriented solutions for new or technically and economically optimized processes involving ablation, cutting or drilling. The Fraunhofer ILT team of experts also develops laser-based technologies for the efficient processing, functionalization and finishing of surfaces, for example for cleaning, polishing, marking or heat treatment. One R&D focus is on new multi-beam processes, which can be used to create precise micro and nanostructures on surfaces with high throughputs. Numerous Fraunhofer ILT innovations have won awards and contributed to economic solutions for complex tasks in production and metrology, energy and mobility, medical and environmental technology, as well as quantum technology. 

Efficient processing of copper materials with blue laser radiation for modern battery technology.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.
Efficient processing of copper materials with blue laser radiation for modern battery technology.

Since the mid-1990s, Fraunhofer ILT has been advancing additive manufacturing - especially of metallic components - for example with Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) or Laser Material Deposition (LMD). Emphasis is placed on optimizing cost-effectiveness by taking a comprehensive view of the process chains - from component design through process control and systems engineering to finishing. Further potential can be exploited with the development of new materials for additive manufacturing that are adapted to the intended use. Fraunhofer ILT customers are provided with target-oriented support in the development and testing of laser manufacturing processes as well as in the design and implementation of machines and technical components.

Plant for Laser Powder Bed Fusion with shielding gas chamber.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.
Plant for Laser Powder Bed Fusion with shielding gas chamber.

The digitalization of photonics is being driven forward in particular in the areas of laser development and process engineering. Customer-specific solutions are developed and implemented with the help of modeling and simulation, data processing, storage and integration, and cloud-based systems. The focus is on a global view of processes and procedures. For the optimization and quality assurance of production processes, Fraunhofer ILT develops software modules and solutions using artificial intelligence methods, among other things.

In the field of laser measurement technology, the focus of interest is not only on classical quality and economic aspects in production, but also on questions of sustainability, circular economy, recycling and raw material efficiency. For example, customized processes and systems are developed for inline measurement of physical and chemical properties in a process line, as well as automated sorting systems for recyclable materials.

In addition to laser-based production measurement technology and material analysis, Fraunhofer ILT also uses plasma-based beam sources and measurement methods for challenging tasks in industry and science. The Fraunhofer ILT team of experts is thus entering the submicrometer world of semiconductor technology and biology. Together with partners from life sciences, new laser applications are being developed in bioanalytics, laser microscopy, clinical diagnostics, laser therapy, biofunctionalization and biofabrication. The development and production of implants as well as microsurgical and microfluidic components are also among the core activities in this R&D area.

Laser Technology for Your Industry

Laser technology can solve demanding tasks in many different industries. Whether as a tool in automotive production, as measuring equipment in the environmental sector, as a diagnostic or therapeutic instrument in medical technology or as a communication medium in space technology, the laser provides multiple uses with high productivity and high efficiency. Thanks to its intensive research and application-specific developments, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT has been guiding its industrial partners in developing their innovations for more than 30 years – in the “branches” section you will find further information and a selection from our services.