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Lasers for precision work - ultra-short pulsed lasers for micromaterial processing

New laser systems are changing industrial production every day and are making processes less energy-intensive and more accurate. In many cases innovative lasers actually enable certain production steps to be carried out, especially when micromaterial processing is involved – i.e. drilling, milling and cutting in the microscopically small range. The lasers used in this processes do not emit light continuously, they are “pulse” operated, i.e. they emit their light in time-limited, very short “pulses” and therefore protect the material to be processed. New ultra-short pulsed lasers combine pulse rates in the picosecond or femtosecond range, i.e. from 10 12 or 10 15 seconds, with a hitherto unknown performance level. LASER World of PHOTONICS 2011 will present the latest solutions in the area of ultra-short pulsed lasers at the New Munich Trade Fair Centre from 23 to 26 May 2011.

Conventional lasers cause thermal or mechanical damage such as burrs and cracks or unwanted changes in the surface condition of sensitive materials. By comparison, completely different interactions are created when ultra-short pulsed lasers are used. This largely minimises negative impacts – all the more so the shorter the laser pulses are.

During LASER World of PHOTONICS 2011 companies and research institutes will exhibit new ultra-short pulsed lasers in the picosecond and femtosecond range. Thanks to their high performance and robust design, these lasers are opening up new applications in industry – from cutting of silicon wafers and composite fibre materials, and microstructuring of surfaces through to exact drilling. For example, diesel injection nozzles can be drilled much more precisely and more finely than ever before using high-powered ultra-short pulsed lasers. Since the fuel is more finely atomised, the formation of soot particles is prevented and fuel consumption is reduced.
“Ultra-short pulsed lasers have the potential to replace traditional production processes for cutting, drilling and material removing in many areas”, said Dr. Sascha Weiler, Micromachining Product Manager, Trumpf Laser- und Systemtechnik GmbH, Ditzingen. "However, they also permit entirely new applications which have not been conceivable to date. Ultra-short pulsed lasers are very efficient because the energy has an effect in exactly the place where it should without heat or any other influences on the surrounding area. The process is therefore especially suitable for fine machining operations and sensitive materials.“ The topic of ultra-short pulsed lasers will therefore play a very forward-looking role in a separate exhibition area entitled “Lasers and laser systems in production engineering” during the trade fair.

New possibilities for production engineering
Ultra-short pulsed lasers in the picosecond range are already used in production engineering. ”Especially in LED production, ultra-short pulsed lasers recently started replacing the current nanosecond lasers”, said Dr. Müller, Director Marketing/Sales, Lumera Laser GmbH, Kaiserslautern. “It has been revealed that in LED dicing, i.e. separation of LEDS, high diode efficiency and higher output can be attained using picosecond lasers.” His company will present these and other current application examples of his company’s industrial picosecond lasers in the power range between 6 and 60 Watts at LASER World of PHOTONICS 2011.

Picosecond lasers are also used in the printing industry to produce print cylinders, in toolmaking or in glass processing to produce touch displays. These lasers will be presented at World of PHOTONICS by companies such as High Q Laser, Rankweil, Austria. During the trade fair the company will exhibit its latest generation of pulsed lasers in the picosecond range. The new laser generation is characterised by its extremely compact design of just 20 x 12 x 9.6 centimetres. Thanks to their robust design, the new picosecond lasers are especially suitable for industrial use and can also be integrated very flexibly in already existing systems as a result of their compact shape.

Femtosecond lasers attaining market maturity
The next generation of ultra-short pulsed lasers with pulse ranges in the femtosecond range are now also attaining market maturity. The first industrially usable beam sources, the lasers themselves, are already available. As the sales partner of the manufacturer Light Conversion GmbH, Vilnius, Lithuania, TOPAG Lasertechnik GmbH, Darmstadt, will present, for example, the former’s femtosecond lasers with an output power of up to 10 Watts during the trade fair. The systems are temperature-stabilised and hermetically sealed, and can therefore be utilised both in a laboratory and in industrial environments without modifications. Whereas femtosecond lasers were first used in eye surgery, beam sources with a higher output power of up to 10 Watts are now also opening up new applications which were not possible with the previously much lower output power – for example in exact microstructuring and nanostructuring of thin-film solar cells.

The latest technology trend in femtosecond lasers is towards further optimisation of the systems, for example improved beam guidance. The industry is also working on the implementation of the new technologies in production chains. The performance characteristics of the new lasers are being tested and defined for a wide range of materials. It is being exactly determined here what average output power is ideally suited for a specific material in order to ensure the necessary amount of material to be removed and the exact penetration depth for a defined task. The industrial standards which will make it even more easier to use femtosecond lasers in industry in future are therefore now being created.

Higher output power for wider use
In order to ensure that the new generation of femtosecond lasers can be used on as wide a scale as possible in industry, companies and researchers are working on the development of even more efficient lasers in an output power range of around 1 Kilowatt (kW). As one of the leading organisations in this field, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering (IOF), Jena, has already succeeded in increasing the output power of femtosecond lasers to an average of 830 Watts and will present its expertise in the area of ultra-short pulsed lasers and material processing both in the exhibition area of LASER World of PHOTONICS and during the practical talks in the World of Photonics Congress.

Many other exhibitors will also present their solutions in the area of ultra-short pulsed lasers at the trade fair. They will include Coherent Deutschland GmbH, Dieburg, Edgewave GmbH, Würselen, High Q Laser Innovation GmbH, Rankweil/Austria, Lumera Laser GmbH, Kaiserslautern and Rofin Sinar Laser GmbH, Hamburg.

Ultra-short pulsed lasers and production engineering - World of Photonics Congress
A large number of the scientific events during the World of Photonics Congress at the Munich International Congress Centre (ICM) from 22 to 26 May 2011 will also focus on innovations in the use of ultra-short pulsed lasers for industrial production. The topic of lasers in industrial production will be examined during the Lasers in Manufacturing Conference (LIM 2011), which is being organised by the German Scientific Laser Society (WLT). Messe München, Bayerisches Laserzentrum GmbH, Erlangen, and the Institute for Machine Tools and Management Science of Munich Technical University are also jointly staging the special show entitled “Photons in Production“ in Hall C1 which will be devoted to the topic of laser manufacturing, especially from the aspect of resource efficiency.

In particular, the topic of ultra-short pulsed lasers will be examined during several practical talks in the World of Photonics Congress. These talks will describe the possibilities of the practical use of lasers and photonics. The talk entitled “Latest applications of highly brilliant and short-pulsed laser systems” from 14.00 to 16.00 on 25 May 2011 will illustrate the topic of ultra-short pulsed lasers from different application aspects. The practical talk entitled “Energy & Lightweight Construction: Laser Enables Productivity & Quality“ from 14.00 to 16.30 on 23 May 2011 will deal with the topic area of production engineering. Both practical talks will take place on Stand 569 in Hall C2 during the Photonics Forum.

For in-depth information on the Congress, visit:

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 News - 17.04.2014
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