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LZH and partners develop laser system to drill rivet holes in CFRP composites

17 Mar 2020

"Labokomp" project significantly reduces drilling time per hole; an efficient process for series components.

In the LaBoKomp research and development project, Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) and four partners have developed a laser-based system for drilling rivet holes in composite materials. The LZH was significantly involved in the development of the underlying process and the required system technology. They were able to drastically reduce the drilling time per hole for laser-based processes.

The LZH scientists successfully tested the laser drilling process and the system on so-called "cargo struts". These are C-shaped struts stabilize the cargo hold floor. With a drilling time of less than 10 seconds per hole, the new method is now on a par with conventional ones – without the disadvantage of tool wear or the risk of delamination.

Precise, fast and flexible

The automated process is based on a specifically developed software. It enables drilling strategies in which parameters can be continuously adjusted during the process. This enables an optimal quality of the holes, which also meets aviation standards.

Project partner Invent GmbH was able to demonstrate that the laser-drilled holes are equivalent to conventional holes. Whole work orders can be programmed by specifying a few variables. The process is continuously monitored by thermography and the heat dissipation is regulated based on this.

The system was planned and designed in cooperation with the KMS Technology Center GmbH, and then put into operation at the LZH. The system includes a new type of laser from the associated partner TRUMPF Laser GmbH. The assemblies developed by KMS can be changed flexibly and adapted to different applications.

Multiple laminates

The system and the process are suitable for all CFRP types commonly used in aviation, as well as laminates with GFRP top layers and copper mesh. It is also possible to drill different laminates placed on top of each other.

The LaBoKomp project (grant no. 13N14111) was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the scope of the funding initiative "KMU-innovativ: Photonik". In addition to the LZH, the Invent, the KMS Technology Center, Trumpf Laser, and Premium Aerotec were involved in this development.

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