Japan's industry ministry pushes for laser development

Kawasaki, Japan – Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has launched a five-year, next-generation laser development program as joint efforts between its R&D departments and nine industrial companies, according to the July 15th edition of Metalworking Insiders' Report.

METI's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Corp.  Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture) is setting a goal to realize processing machines using semiconductor- and fiber-laser emitters by March 2015, says the Report.

By 2012 or 2013, NEDO expects, prototype equipment can be developed and used as launch pads for further collaboration with potential users, such as carmakers and heavy- and electrical-equipment firms. These companies will be allowed to join the program, after confirming successful initial efforts, to benefit from what the METI calls "an open innovation system." METI suggests processing carbon-fiber composites and producing solar cells and flat displays as the typical applications after 2015, says the Report.

The initial members include Shin Nippon Koki Co. (Osaka), laser-welding-machine maker Miyachi Technos Corp. (Noda), and three others that belong to a unit whose efforts will center on combining multiple wavelengths. The NEDO and two other R&D centers agreed to concentrate on "common infrastructure-like technologies," according to the Report.

As a result, Shin Nippon Koki uses emitters supplied by IPG Photonics Corp. (Oxford, Mass.) in its sheet metal machines. Miyachi has commercialized 1-kW fiber laser, which is used in its welding/cutting machines. Applications include secondary battery encapsulation, says the Report.


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