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Lasers, more than a tool

Laser light is conceptually a very simple tool, the distribution in space and time of light rays with a restricted set of physical parameters (wavelenght, polarization,...). Yet, the laser generators have been hugely improved and sophisticated, to produce exactly the kind of light power for better and better industrial processes, or to result in brand new processes altogether.

Emerging challenges from the industry have pushed the technology and a constant search for new laser sources and systems (optics, fibers, processing heads, monitoring tools) is blooming and oppening the door to new opportunities. Very high beam quality ultrashort pulsed lasers are being used for extreme resolution (beyond diffraction limit) material processing, like multiphoton lithography or superresolution machining, nanoscale functionalization, and generation of different functional surfaces throgh selective metallization, laser induced transfer, chemical activation, etc...

On the other hand, kilowatt-class ultrafast lasers are becoming a reality, enabling all the power of ultrafast laser processing with a realistic production rate for large surfaces. This possibility, combined with proper beamshaping technology (holographic, diffractive, interference, micromirrors, electrooptics...)  allow the consideration of laser-based alternatives to chemical etching, abrasive processing, and other environmentally harmful or resource intensive surface processing even on very large surfaces (aircraft wings and the like), all with an athermal, extremely controlled process. These processes are still under development, but the cycles from development to actual integration are getting shorter, and it won't take very long to have high power ultrashort pulsed lasers on the wokshop, probably robotized and fibre guided, or else with gantry CNC systems. Altenratively, higher control of the photon distribution in time, by using ultrashort, extreme frequency bursts of pulses, is being proven to improve processing rates without the need of higher average power.

Outside of ultrafast lasers, high quality, high degree of control solid state lasers (in particular fibre lasers, both pulsed and modulated) are allowing the tight control of microwelding, microcutting or microdrilling processes, remote processing for high speed, or very high speed structuring processes, to fit the demands of digital manufacturing, electric mobility, biomedical and medical device manufacturing, or new processes related with remanufacturing, repairing or de-manufacturing. All of them closely integrated with 

Additive manufacturing is a well known area for lasers to enable precise and high quality processes, but beyond that, the productivity, predictability, reliability and net-shape production ability of the processes is experiencing a leap forward thanks to new developments in process simulation, monitoring and integrated control, where AI is playing a major role in real time correction of process parameters and on-the-fly pathplanning and process planning capabilities.

In short, many developments are currently anticipating a transformation in the way lasers will contribute to the manufacturing of the goods and products of the future, and industry must keep up to date on these groundbreaking advancements to take the most out of them.

Created by AIMEN_promero 2 years, 2 months ago (last activity 2 years, 2 months ago) and viewed 543 times

Insight related to Process development and optimization in the context of Manufacturing

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