Efficient Surface Treatment with the Laser
Whether they are used for functional structuring, coating or polishing, lasers have proved to be very advantageous tools that have made processes in many areas of industrial production significantly more cost-effective and robust. However, previous laser applications in industrial surface treatment often have limited throughput or are not suitable for more complex adjustments.
Funded by the European Union, the ultraSURFACE project focuses on optimizing optical systems with dynamic 3D applicability and on developing strategies for laser-based production processes with high-throughput. The project also helps to make manufacturing more environmentally friendly in Europe: The concepts under development reduce noise, dispersion dust, and the use of (toxic) chemicals as well as improve the CO2 balance by lowering emissions. Ten partners are involved in the project, which is coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen.
New Optics Designs for Increased Throughput
In the ultraSURFACE project, scientists and industry partners are developing two new optical designs which allow users to adapt laser beam manipulation individually and to increase throughput by a factor of ten compared to conventional processes. To accomplish this, the partners use beam shaping and beam splitter optics for the laser. For laser polishing and coating, the beam shaping optics can be used to individually adapt the intensity profile of the laser radiation to local surface conditions. Furthermore, the surface can be processed simultaneously with several individual beams by means of the beam splitter optics for laser microstructuring.
The aim of the ultraSURFACE project is also to demonstrate that its processes can easily be used in manufacturing – the technologies developed here will later be integrated into a variety of industrial applications using appropriate prototypes. The new concepts will be tested and evaluated in laser polishing, laser thin-film processing and laser microstructuring. In addition to high-quality products for the automotive sector or for mechanical engineering in general, these concepts are also suitable for manufacturing consumer-market products. The new concepts of the ultraSURFACE project thus offer great potential for many industries – not only in the European laser market.