23 Dec 2014
EC-co-funded, Fraunhofer managed LASHARE offers €1.7m development funding to SMEs, industrial collaborators.LASHARE project, a pan-European project designed to share laser applications research and expertise, is calling for additional project partners to join its R&D grouping. LASHARE intends to add 10 to 12 new “Laser Equipment Assessments” (LEAs) focusing on sensors and knowledge-based ICT systems for complex manufacturing.
LASHARE is a European Commission co-funded research project, established in 2013, which aims to share laser processing expertise. Coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT), it already involves more than 36 partners from industry, including small and medium sized businesses and six of Europe’s most renowned research and technology development organizations.
The LASHARE partners employ the LEA approach, in which an industrial user, an SME equipment supplier and a research and technology development partner jointly assess a piece of laser-based processing equipment. LASHARE is seeking additional project partners with experience of sensing and knowledge-based manufacturing.
In the typical LEA approach, the LASHARE partners develop the definition of manufacturing objectives, the implementation of necessary technological enhancements and final validation of such in a production environment. The aim is to produce a robust prototype of the laser-based equipment “in line with market expectations”, explains the Fraunhofer ILT.
Since September 2013, LASHARE has initiated 14 LEAs. Following the first stages of these assessments, the first solutions from the implementation phase are now emerging, with some LEA’s exchanging equipment for preliminary testing at various user sites. Newly developed laser sources have been dispatched, new processing heads tested and workpiece samples shared for analysis.
Within the project, all LEAs are connected through cross sectional activities where topics are identified that are of common interest to all partners, such as automation which has been identified as playing an important role in developing and selling laser-based equipment.
Some of the partners have said they regard interfacing with external automation solutions as a burden due to the diversity of industrial environments. In some cases, efforts for customer site integration even exceed the sales price of the product. Activities such as the implementation of modular interfaces or agreed protocols for control signals will contribute to an increased economic efficiency in this area on both the supplier and the user side.
The results from the first phase of the project, that include the envisaged success of the LEAs and the identified general requirements from the diverse market environments, have led to the formulation of a competitive call which will be opened by LASHARE on February 1 2015. It will allow new teams of suppliers and users to join the project with relevant European topics in the area of laser-based equipment for manufacturing.
The equipment addressed within such an LEA should enable autonomous set-up of machine and laser parameters for fast and flexible manufacture and/or process and quality control for robust processes and fully documented production. Through this call, funding of more than €1.7 million is offered to new LEA partners, based on the rules of the Seventh Framework Program of the European Commission. The new LEAs are expected to start from September 1 2015.
Coordination and support for the LASHARE project is by I4MS, an initiative co-funded by the European Commission supporting several projects in creating advance in Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs. The I4MS-Gate project supports the research projects in disseminating their results and spreading the information within manufacturing industries in Europe.
About the Author
Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.