News | February 21, 2013

Cold, Non-Destructive Cutting: Ultrashort Pulse Lasers And Other Trends At LASER World Of PHOTONICS 2013

Extremely high power, but with extremely short pulse durations – thanks to this combination, ultrashort pulse lasers have been conquering entirely new applications in manufacturing and medicine for several years now. LASER World of PHOTONICS, the leading international trade fair that takes place at the Messe München trade-fair center from May 13 – 16, 2013, will demonstrate that, while laser pulses continue to get shorter, their power is increasing. Visitors will discover the latest capabilities at the scientific World of Photonics Congress, which takes place at the neighboring ICM – International Congress Center München from May 12 – 16, 2013 and features six conferences with more than 2,500 presentations under a single roof.

The laser’s capabilities have been fascinating users ever since it was invented: It is extremely precise, uses extremely strong bundled energy, and it is ideally suited for the extremely delicate tasks that it performs. But there is one problem: Heat can damage or destroy materials and tissue to an extent that was no longer acceptable and limited potential applications – until the ultrashort pulse laser was developed. It sends pulses of just a few picoseconds or less into the material. As a result, it can be used to cut into or remove material before enough heat is generated to damage it.

“The products on the market – at least those in the picosecond-laser range – are now suitable for industrial use and are being used in three-shift manufacturing,” explains Christof Siebert, Senior Manager for Microprocessing Applications at Trumpf Laser- und Systemtechnik. The laser expert is chairing an Application Panel on the “Latest Applications for Shortpulse Laser Systems”. The session takes place at the Forum in Hall C2 on May 13 (14:00 – 16:00).

The ongoing development of ultrashort pulse lasers is an important aspect of the exhibition sector for “Lasers and Laser Systems for Production Engineering” (Halls C1 and C2) and a topic of discussion at the “Lasers in Manufacturing 2013” (LIM) conference, which is part of the World of Photonics Congress at the ICM.

Increasingly shorter pulses and higher average power
According to Siebert, “the current trend is toward increasing average power as a way to optimize productivity and efficiency. The second is toward lasers that are suitable for industrial use with increasingly shorter pulse durations in order to expand the range of materials in cold processing to include more sensitive materials than in the past.”

For Dr. Arnold Gillner, Head of the Department for Material Removal and Joining at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology, the trend is toward higher average power in the 500 W range. “At the Fraunhofer ILT, a prototype of a 1-kW femtosecond laser has already been demonstrated,” adds Gillner, who will lead the panel on ultrashort pulse lasers with Siebert. For the scientists, the key question is how to apply the higher average power of USP lasers to the workpiece and achieve high ablation quality.” The Fraunhofer ILT will introduce two approaches to doing so at the fair: An ultra-fast scanning system with beam-deflection speeds greater than 300 m/s, and a multiple-beam optics system to parallelize processing by more than two orders of magnitude.

Besides technical feasibility, naturally costs play a large role in these recent developments. One of the objectives of the experts at Jenoptik, for example, is to use higher power and the resulting increased productivity to offset the costs of investing in femtosecond lasers. When it comes to performance reliability, femtosecond lasers are now delivering “very good application results in full-time, 24/7 operation.” Jenoptik, for example, increased the pulse-repetition rate of its D2.fs femtosecond disk laser to  more than 500 kHz and improved its output power by 25 percent. Jenoptik is also using a new series of lenses to round out its range of all-quartz lenses for high laser power.

Separating composite materials without delamination
According to Dr. Gyu C. Cho, Executive Vice President of ultrashort pulse fiber-laser pioneer IMRA, the application fields in which ultrashort pulse lasers can put their strengths to full use include precision processing of transparent materials and extremely hard, brittle materials. Due to these systems, Dr. Cho also sees completely new possibilities when it comes to cutting composite materials would burn or delaminate on the edges if classic lasers or other methods were used. IMRA manufactures femtosecond lasers for a variety of applications with an average power of up to 20 W and a pulse energy of 50 microjoules. According to Dr. Cho, the first industries that will profit greatly from ultrashort pulse lasers include display manufacturing as well as the semiconductor and microelectronics industry.

Ultrashort laser pulses can definitely be used differently on glass or brittle materials. Increasingly thinner and harder glass touchscreens on Smartphones are a good example: “Picosecond lasers like the TruMicro Series 5000 are ideal for cutting the glass plates. This technique avoids microcracks that appear when diamond saws or continuous or long-pulse lasers are used”, says Trumpf expert Christof Siebert, explaining the benefits.

Using USP lasers in medicine also on the rise
This technology also offers great advantages in medicine and medical technology. The most important trend in medicine “is the use of ultrashort pulse lasers in laser refractive cataract surgery (LRCS)”, explains Dr. Matthias Schulze, Marketing Director at Coherent. This has been the most rapidly growing application for lasers in medicine in the last one to two years. The technology permits “even better vision when replacing the intra-ocular lens (IOL) in cataract surgery,” says Schulze. For example, it makes it possible to better prepare the eye for the use of premium IOLs by using precision cuts to correct astigmatism. His forecast for the future: “Compact lasers will make it possible to use smaller treatment stations, and higher pulse rates will make operation times even shorter.”

Users often know too little about the technology’s benefits
A market study that the Munster-based technology consulting firm LOTSE conducted for the Rostock Welding and Research Institute at the MIKROLAS Innovation Forum demonstrated how important it is for manufacturers and users to exchange ideas and information at the fair. One result: Ultrashort pulse lasers can predominantly be found in scientific laboratories and development environments. “At present, the only market applications that are worth mentioning are in the picosecond range,” reports Dr. Josef Gochermann, Managing Director of LOTSE. The major reason is a lack of information: “Potential future users of ultrashort pulse technologies still know too little about the possible uses of this technology and the benefits that they can expect for their specific applications,” explains Gochermann.

The international trade fair LASER World of PHONTONICS and the World of Photonics Congress, which features information on the latest developments and potential uses of USP lasers under a single roof, can give them an information edge.

Details about the World of Photonics Congress 2013 are available at
www.photonics-congress.com.

Photos from the 2011 fair are available at
www.media.messe-muenchen.de/Laser/#1358327592427_0

About LASER World of PHOTONICS
The LASER World of PHOTONICS trade fairs and their congresses are the most important marketplaces and think tanks for the worldwide laser and photonics industry and its users. They combine research and applications and promote the utilization and further development of optical technologies.

Messe München International has held LASER World of PHOTONICS every two years since 1973. The fair was the first event to focus on the sector for optical technologies in the world, and it celebrates its forty-year anniversary in May 2013.

The World of Photonics Congress, which is Europe’s largest photonics congress and is organized in cooperation with the world’s leading organizations in this field, is held at the same time as the fair. A spin-off event, LASER World of PHOTONICS China, is the leading regional trade show for optical technologies in China. It takes place in Shanghai every year in March. The new event LASER World of PHOTONICS INDIA takes place since 2012 and is a regional trade fair for optical technologies in India, now taking place in Mumbai every year.

With a total of 1,677 exhibitors and more than 64,000 visitors in Munich, Shanghai and Mumbai, Messe Muenchen International is the world’s leading trade show organizer for lasers and photonics.

The websites at www.world-of-photonics.net feature information on the photonics trade shows, industry information, product innovations, and application reports and are a virtual platform for optical technologies.

About the conference program at the World of Photonics Congress
The world’s leading scientific organizations in the field of photonics will organize conferences under the umbrella of the World of Photonics Congress from May 12 – 16, 2013:

  • “CLEO/Europe-EQEC”, organized by the European Physical Society (EPS), sponsored by the EPS Quantum Electronics and Optics Division, OSA, IEEE/LEOS
  • “Optofluidics”, “Manufacturing of Optical Components” and “Advanced Optomechanical “Engineering, organized by the European Optical Society (EOS)
  • “LiM - Lasers in Manufacturing”, organized by the Scientific Laser Society (WLT);
  • “ECBO - European Conference on Biomedical Optics“, organized by the Optical Society of America (OSA) and the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE)
  • Optical Metrology, organized by SPIE Europe

The conference program is rounded out by application panels featuring practical lectures about laser and photonics applications organized by Messe München. For more information, visit www.photonicscongress.com.

About Messe München International
Messe München International is one of the world´s leading trade show companies. In Munich alone it organizes around 40 trade shows for capital and consumer goods, and key high tech industries. Each year more than 30,000 exhibitors and around two million visitors take part in the events held at MesseMünchen exhibition center, the ICM – International Congress Center München, and in the MOC Veranstaltungscenter München. The leading international trade fairs of Messe München International are all FKM-certified, i.e. exhibitor and visitor numbers and the figures for exhibition space are collected in line with agreed standards and independently audited on behalf of the FKM (Gesellschaft zur Freiwilligen Kontrolle von Messe- und Ausstellungszahlen), a society for the voluntary monitoring of fair and exhibition statistics.

In addition, Messe München International organizes trade shows in Asia, Russia, the Middle East, South America and South Africa. With eleven affiliates abroad – in Europe and in Asia – and over 60 foreign representatives actively serving over 90 countries, Messe München International has a worldwide business network. The Group also takes a pioneering role as regards sustainability: It is the first trade-fair company to be awarded energy-efficiency certification from the technical inspection authorities TÜV SÜD.

SOURCE: LASER World of PHOTONICS