Hannover, Germany - Bringing laser-based innovations to the market more quickly and reliably is the aim of the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the 37 partners in the EU project LASHARE. In a cross-cutting subproject led by the LZH, assessment criteria for new technologies will be determined. In the future, these criteria will help to reliably evaluate if and how new laser-based products can attain market maturity. The scientists of the research institute themselves are pushing forward three prototypes in the fields of metal cutting, 2 micron lasers, and a mobile processing unit.
Normally, innovative laser-based products take a long time before they are ready for industry. The small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) developing the technologies very often lack the know-how and resources to match the technologies to the demands of industry. Therefore, investors consider these technologies to be too risky. In consequence, many innovative ideas never make it beyond the development level or small series production. Based upon the new criteria, SMEs will be able to evaluate their developments more easily and provide potential investors with more security.
The criteria costs, required time and resources for system integration, modularity of the components, interfaces to other systems and universal applicability (plug & play) will be made measurable to make the costs and benefits of the new technology visible. The LZH cooperates closely with the five research partners of the project and collects information of the worldwide operating manufacturers. The criteria are tested using existing pre-commercial products which are being further developed within the LASHARE subprojects.
LZH: bringing three products to the market
Within the scope of the EU project, the LZH is also further developing three technologies. In the subproject CUDE, a 2 kW diode laser with high beam quality for metal processing will be developed and integrated into a laser cutting machine. For the MOBILAS subproject, a mobile processing unit for shipbuilding and large steel constructions is being further developed to weld, cut, and ablate corrosion and paint. A 2 micron laser and beam analysis system is being further developed and tested under industrial conditions in the TWOMICRO subproject. Plastics, such as plexiglass, will be processed with this system. All these products are fully functional under laboratory conditions and will now be further developed to prove operation in practice and to rapidly transfer them into industry.
LASHARE is the acronym of a European project involving more than 30 SMEs from across Europe, large industrial enterprises and six of the most renowned laser research institutes. LASHARE is being coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT). The main objective is to turn innovative prototypes into robust solutions which can be transferred to industry.
Photo: The DirectPhotonics Industries' diode laser system has a high beam quality at 500 W output power. In the LASHARE subproject CUDE, it is being further developed for metal processing at 2 kW output power with constant beam quality. Courtesy: DPIGmbH