Ultrafast laser engraving system has been able to process large metals to reduce the impact on the environment

Ultrashort pulse (USP) lasers with picosecond and femtosecond ranges are usually called ultrafast lasers. They are known for their ultra precise resection and cutting effects. Unfortunately, processing with this laser takes time. To solve this problem, a new research project funded by the European Commission aims to increase the speed of material processing using ultrafast lasers by up to 100 times.

Ultrafast lasers can do something very unique: they can ablate almost all materials without causing heat loads on adjacent materials. Even at the micron level, they have smooth incisions and no melting. All of this makes ultrafast lasers very interesting in industries such as tool manufacturing, where hard materials have to be processed very precisely.

Now a new laser engraving machine has been able to produce antifouling, hydrophobic metal or plastic surfaces, which can quickly replace the toxic paint used in marine coatings to prevent algae or barnacles from sticking to the hull, thus reducing maintenance costs, fuel costs and carbon dioxide emissions.

Using new photonics technology, a group of European scientists are currently developing a 1kW lattice ultrafast laser system, which can imitate shark skin and create surfaces with better hydrodynamic effects by carving metal or plastic surfaces.

New laser systems etch tiny "spines" on metals or plastics to form rough surfaces at the microscopic level. This uneven surface can reduce resistance and inhibit the growth of bacteria, algae and even barnacles.

Rattan on the hull, paint peeling off

Shark skin is covered with millions of tiny particles (tiny protuberances), which reduces resistance and makes it an efficient swimmer.

Scales on shark skin

Similarly, engraved metal or plastic surfaces may have "antifouling" properties to prevent contamination or microbial adhesion.

Scientists behind the 4.7 million euro laser project hope to generate specially designed structures on steel hull that can help reduce fuel consumption and replace toxic marine paints that are harmful to the environment.

"Laser-made surface structures have the potential to reduce friction and prevent plant and algae growth," said Dr Johannes finger, project coordinator. This can significantly reduce ship maintenance, maintenance, CO2 emissions and fuel costs, while replacing environmentally toxic harmful coatings. " Laser carved metal surface

"In addition to offshore components, the application area can also be found in aircraft and turbine machinery. Here, the surface structure may inhibit cavitation, thereby increasing the service life of the propulsion system or turbine propeller. "

"Our optical system can also create design textures or" microcavity, "Dr finger said. Here, the environment benefits by replacing environmentally harmful technologies such as chemical etching. "

The super fast laser can burn any material without damaging it. The surface cut by ultra fast laser is a smooth surface of micron level, which is an ideal choice for many industries which need to process hard materials with high precision.

Lattice laser

Like the old dot matrix printer printing line by line, lasers emit ultra fast concentrated energy pulses to ablate or cut materials that are difficult to process.

The system is similar to a huge chessboard, which can divide a single beam into a grid of 64 "small beams", and can turn on, close, position and adjust any small beam separately.

Lattice beam

"The existing ultra fast laser is known for its precise ablation and cutting effects. Unfortunately, it can take weeks to process large parts with such lasers. Our system can burn more than 150 cubic millimeters in a minute, so it's hundreds of times faster than the existing technology. " Dr finger said.

Wide range of applications

The super fast laser represents the exciting breakthrough of surface technology, and has many widely applications

Tool and mold manufacturing - with the increase in production, USP tooling and tool manufacturing equipment, such as making vents or microcavity, and making textures on free surfaces more cost-effective, can now be produced. The manufacturing equipment of tools and moulds is the first field to verify the technology.

Automotive - by providing high-yield USP surface treatment technology for use in micro structural applications for interior lighting, dashboard and aesthetic and tactile structures.

Electronic products - the popularity of USP technology in electronic products will improve the performance and reliability of complex high-performance electronic components. The manufacturing of through hole based on USP and technical ceramics for high performance electronic equipment will be improved significantly.

Printing and stamping – with a more economical and fast production line, USP printing system has the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of electronic printing, micro structure precision printing and high precision tool manufacturing.