13 Nov 2009
A €16m R&D initiative to push "the limits of advanced materials processing applications" with a new generation of fibre lasers has been launched under the auspices of the European Commission's 7th Framework Programme.
The 21 industrial and academic partners involved in LIFT (or, to use its full title, Leadership in Fibre Laser Technologies) are aiming to tap into one of the fastest-growing segments of the €2bn global market for industrial lasers.
Right now, fibre lasers account for around 10% of the estimated market volume for industrial lasers. But analysts expect that market share to double by 2010 and double again by 2013, when fibre lasers will account for more than 30% of industrial lasers sold worldwide.
For the LIFT consortium, the goal is certainly an ambitious one: to establish an internationally leading position for Europe in the science, application and production technologies of fibre lasers.
In terms of specifics, the LIFT partners say they will develop "innovative laser sources with intelligent beam-delivery systems and dynamic beam manipulation – in CW, nanosecond-pulsed and ultrashort-pulsed femtosecond laser sources, operating at power levels ranging into the kilowatt regime".
Core application areas to be addressed by LIFT include high-speed remote cutting and welding; medical diagnostics and treatment; cost-effective manufacturing of solar cells for renewable energy; and manufacture of the next-generation ICs.
A near-term priority is to put in place a European network of components suppliers and laser system manufacturers.
The LIFT consortium comprises the following partners: Fraunhofer IWS, Fraunhofer IOF (D); European Photonics Industry Consortium EPIC (FR); Oclaro (CH); Eolite Systems (FR); Quantel (FR); Time-Bandwidth Products (CH); Gooch & Housego (UK); Rofin Sinar Laser (D); Tampere University of Technology (FIN); 3S Photonics (FR); Politecnico di Torino (I); University of Swansea (UK); SPI Laser (UK); Dilas Diodenlaser (D); Perfos (FR); NKT/Crystal Fibre (DK); Optoskand (S); IxFibre (FR); Raicol Crystals (ISR); Corelase (FIN).