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'MuReA' technique enables rapid laser processing applications

12 Sep 2017

Fraunhofer IWS develops flexible laser materials processing and control system for metals, polymers and more.

The Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik (IWS) has developed a novel, remote laser delivery and control system called “MuReA”, which enables a range of quick, flexible and efficient laser processing tasks. IWS scientists have combined laser remote systems, spindle drives and high performance beam sources to function effectively with each other.

As a result, say the developers, the MuReA laser system enables large-scale, flexible and quick processing of materials such as aluminum, stainless steel and fiber-reinforced polymers. Working areas of up to one square meter can now be processed at a laser beam speed of up to 10 meters per second. The IWS commented that, in particular, the automotive and the aerospace industry will benefit from possible applications of MuReA.

Research, testing and project-ready

The IWS engineers designed a novel multi remote system, which is now available for basic research tests and for further projects. The combination of height- adjustable, high performance scanners with a movable cross table enables the operators to process complex compounds in a flexible and large-scale manner.

The “MuReA” provides laser sources within the kilowatt power range and at wavelengths of between one micrometer and 10.6 micrometers. These beam sources can be used in a single mode s well as in a simultaneous modes. In addition, the Fraunhofer IWS Dresden designed the scanner and the machine table control such that also continuous materials such as tissue, metal or organo sheet can be processed.

By this means, laser processes such as joining, cutting or ablation can be efficiently developed and be transferred into industrial applications. The researchers say that “MuReA’s spectrum of abilities ranges from small series production to system configuration up to the adaption of system components for industrial purposes.”

Consumer demand

IWS said that background for this development is the growing demand for more efficient materials processing-focused laser systems: lightweight construction for sheet-like semi-finished products consisting of various materials, requires flexible production and processing technologies.

“In particular, automotive and aerospace industries demand machine systems, which achieve processing speeds of up to 100 meters per minute,” commented Annett Klotzbach, group manager “Bonding and Composite Technologies” at the Fraunhofer IWS Dresden.

“Our solution approach consists of laser remote processes with beam sources, which are adapted to material and absorption properties.” Two tiltable mirrors deflect the laser beam to the component and focus it with focal lengths of 200 up to 1000 millimeters. Even very small mirror deflections result in laser spot motion speeds of up to ten meters per second.

During the process of laser material ablation, cutting or structuring of carbon fiber reinforced polymers or stainless steel, hazardous particles or vapors are produced, which could damage electrical and mechanical parts of the system. This is the why the IWS project team optimized the encapsulation of the electronics and additionally implemented a suction chamber, to remove by-products from the work space.

For the adhesive bonding of titanium and aluminum with fiber composite materials, the IWS team has demonstrated that laser processing improves adhesive strength.The surface is cleaned and the oxide layer is positively influenced. Since processing with atmospheric pressure plasma chemically activates the surface and improves the adhesion of different materials, the IWS team additionally implemented double rotary nozzles into the system.

On show

The MuReA system will be exhibited at the “Composites Europe” tradeshow in Stuttgart from September 19 to 21, 2017 in hall 4, booth D40 and at the tradeshow “Schweißen und Schneiden“in Düsseldorf from September 25 to 29, 2017 in hall 15, booth 15D23.

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