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Laser World of Photonics to host new 'power' events

20 May 2015

Munich focusing on automotive, high-power processing, 3D printing plus outputs from EU's "Halo" project.

Applications of photonics in 3D printing, laser technologies dedicated to automotive manufacturing, and an update on Europe’s HALO project (“High power Adaptable Laser beams for materials processing”), are just some of the themes that will be covered by special exhibition areas at next month’s LASER World of PHOTONICS expo, (June 22–25 in Munich, Germany).

“In keeping with the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies," stated show organiser Messe München, "this year’s trade fair will demonstrate how closely innovation in industrial processes is associated with the intelligent use of photonics.” The Photonics Applications in the Automotive Sector mini-show in Hall A3 will showcase the most diverse application areas and latest applications for automotive manufacture live and in a practical setting. A highlight will be the sporty BMW i8 plug-in hybrid, said to be the first vehicle to feature the all-new light technology, laser light.

Industrial laser and toolmaker Trumpf will be demonstrating its range of laser applications which are currently deployed in car factories, ranging from laser welding in body manufacturing, via laser machining of high-strength steels, to laser marking used in speedometers and control buttons.

The potential of photonics in automotive engineering extends beyond manufacturing. For example, Polytec will be presenting optical systems for measuring vibrations and dynamics in the powertrain, in the vehicle interior or on the chassis. Vibrometers are also used in the electro-mobility arena.

Newport-Spectra-Physics will be showcasing infrared optics that assist motorists when driving at night. Also, together with partner and 3D printing specialist Materialise, it will be presenting prototypes of door panels and dashboards manufactured using stereo lithography. UV lasers from Spectra-Physics are used in the rapid prototyping process to harden plastics. The dedicated show will also put the plastic welding process in automotive engineering into perspective using an innovative industrial laser system from LIMO Lissotschenko Mikrooptik.

3D Printing – Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing is making its way into the industrial process world. The opportunities for functional integration, weight reduction and the manufacturing of highly complex geometries in one piece are a source of enormous potential. So LASER World of Photonics will this year see a new 3D Printing–Additive Manufacturing display area “to reflect the successful collaboration between research institutes, system manufacturers and users”. This will be shown, for example, on the stands of system manufacturer Concept Laser and of the Augsburg-based User Center of the Institute for Machine Tools & Industrial Management (IWB) of the TU Munich.

The IWB researchers are working with a Concept Laser system and will be showcasing components they have made with it, such as lightweight honeycomb structures with snap connections used in aircraft wings. The Augsburg researchers will also be demonstrating an innovative thermographic process monitoring system for laser melting.

The Bavarian Laser Center and special “Additive Manufacturing” Research Center 814 of the University of Erlangen-Nuremburg will be exhibiting materials, manufacturing processes and component design for Additive Manufacturing. Selective laser melting of plastics is on the agenda, as is electron beam melting of metals and the construction of multi-material components.

HALO project update

As part of the EU’s HALO project (“High power Adaptable Laser beams for materials processing”), scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT) are working on distributing the laser beam’s intensity in a way that meets the highest quality requirements while conserving resources. The project results will be presented at this year's LASER World of Photonics.

The Fraunhofer scientists comment, “When it comes to cutting sheet metal, the laser is a well-established tool. Laser performance of up to 8kW is the industrial technology standard, which even permits cutting of metal sheets up to 50mm thick. In recent years, in addition to 2D applications, 3D machining of shaped components has been increasing across the board, in part because of the growing use of press-hardened steel for car body engineering.”

A typical laser beam possesses a high intensity at its center, which falls away in a “bell shape” towards the edges. But a laser beam with such a Gaussian intensity distribution is not necessarily the ideal tool for every application. The ILT’s latest research activities are focused on defining the right laser beam for cutting material of various types and thicknesses and tapping the resulting potential.

Since September 2012, an international consortium consisting of nine research institutes and industrial companies – including Trumpf and Synova – has been working to develop application-specific beam formations. Under the leadership of Gooch & Housego, the project participants are customizing the laser beam’s intensity distribution for each individual use case. Ultimately, the laser systems are to be equipped so that users can perform practical tests. Visit the ILT's stand to discover more.

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org

Scitec Instruments Ltdart Photonics GmbHBRD Optical Co., LtdEKSMA OPTICSOmicron-Laserage Laserprodukte GmbHAltechnaNUBURU Inc
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