PhotonHub Europe – Photonics Digital Innovation Hub#
PhotonHub Europe is a European initiative for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). More than 50 research centers from the field of photonics support the use of photonic technologies in SMEs with their offerings. Along different application areas, these technologies are divided into eight platforms. They range from a focus on components such as optical fibers to semiconductor circuits with integrated photonic functions (Photonics Integrated Circuit / PIC) and laser-based application processes. The aim of PhotonHub Europe is to transfer complex technologies to companies so that they can employ this knowledge to strengthen their innovative power and improve their products.
Fraunhofer ILT is home to the technology platform ”Laser-based Manufacturing” (TP8). As an established competence center, a team of experts here organises the cooperation of many well-known organizations on a pan-European level. SMEs can receive support here in the development of new solutions and bring existing technologies into application. Thus, the financial support of the European Commission through the Horizon2020 network enables the development of companies by building knowledge and competencies.
In this context, the Technology Platform “Laser-based Manufacturing is home to laser materials processing from high-performance welding applications in shipbuilding to surface modification in medical applications. TP8 is structured along two dimensions: The first dimension distinguishes lasers with continuous output power and fixed optics, lasers with pulsed power, lasers with mirror deflection and lasers with ultra-short pulsed emission. While this axis essentially characterizes photonic sources, the second dimension includes categories for the realisation and integration of applications. These include IT systems for processing of data, software for connecting photonic components to machine controls, and IoT devices for handling of data generated during manufacturing.
If an application proposal emerges from a manufacturing idea, economic prospects for success are the deciding factor for a work program. With this clear identification of goal and added value, teams of experts set to work with innovative SMEs to create new solutions and values - anywhere in Europe, with any dedicated team.
In 2021, the organizations engaged in TP8 call for initial definitions of manufacturing ideas and application proposals. Diverse application examples can already be found today:
- Joining of components by laser welding using automated joint tracking
- Manufacturing water filters with ultrashort pulse lasers
- Sealing and connecting battery cells using laser microwelding
- Fabrication of miniature glass components using Selective Laser Etching (SLE)
- Signalprocessing for laser-based manufacturing systems