TRUMPF develops high-power ultrafast laser system

TRUMPF has joined a research project named Scaling Ultrafast Laser Productive Precision Processing Technology (ScULPT).

TRUMPF (Ditzingen, Germany) has joined a recently established research project named Scaling Ultrafast Laser Productive Precision Processing Technology (ScULPT) that was set up by a group of partners from science and industry, with the objective of developing an efficient, powerful, ultrafast laser system to enable micromachining of different types of glass and metals with a tenfold increase in throughput. The team wants to develop a laser system that enables high-precision material processing with ultrafast pulses at a significantly improved level of productivity to drastically reduce the processing cost per part to make new applications economically viable. To enable this breakthrough, a significant increase of the output power available from industrial-grade ultrafast pulse lasers is required.

With peak powers of several gigawatts and extremely short pulse durations approximately one trillionth of a second, ultrafast lasers have use in high-precision machining of most materials. These sources are now well established not only in various fields of research, but also in industrial applications such as drilling and texturing of metal parts for the car industry, or ablative cutting of transparent materials such as the high-strength cover glasses used for optical displays. However, the volume of material that can be modified or removed with each laser pulse—and therefore the resulting process throughput—is limited by the available laser pulse energy. This limitation sets the starting point for the new ScULPT project, where the partners will be aiming to accelerate process throughput at least proportionally in relation to the increase in laser power.

Transforming increased laser power into faster machining processes requires additional developments that also form part of the project. These include the construction of application-specific machining modules with suitable, fiber-based beam guidance and beam shape adaptations for individual processes, as well as optimized synchronization between laser and beam scanning systems.

The project team is formed by corporate partners TRUMPF, SCHOTT, and BOSCH, as well as the Universities of Jena (Institute for Applied Physics) and Stuttgart (Institut für Strahlwerkzeuge). The joint research project is receiving financial support over a three-year period from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through the funding program Photonics Research Germany. Project administration is provided by the VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH.

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