Fast laser processing being developed under A’Quilaco11 August 2014

An advanced sensor-controlled laser cutting system is being developed for processing carbon fibre reinforced plastics, under the he European EraSME project A'Quilaco (Advanced online quality and process control for high-speed laser machining of composites).

No control method is currently available so scientists at the Laser Zentrum Hannover are working with Sensortherm and Newson, in Germany and Belgium respectively, on an innovative combined scanning head.

The new head should make it possible to measure any point inside and outside the laser interaction zone, thus maintaining the tight control critical to the process.

The team describes its new system as decoupling the laser beam from the path of a high speed pyrometer – the latter being guided by separate scanner mirrors tuned to the detection wavelength of the pyrometer.

While the LZH is developing the laser and process control system for welding and cutting, Newson is designing the combined scanning head and Sensortherm is working on the high-speed pyrometer.

Sensortherm is also optimising the pyrometer for laser transmission welding, and for laser cutting and material removal.

Laser Zentrum Hannover says the use of such a combined scanning head will not be limited to laser processing of fiber-reinforced plastics.

The team expects its new development to work well with metals and glass-based materials, suggesting that new precision laser cutting plant and processes will be among the outcomes from this two-year project.

In Germany, A'Quilaco is supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), and in Belgium by the IWT agentschap voor Innovatie door Wetenschap en Technologie.

Brian Tinham

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