Technological advances in picosecond and sub-picosecond lasers are opening the possibility of machining materials previously thought to be too hard or too brittle for processing by the current generation of lasers. At the same time, there is a trend towards higher average power to increase throughput. These advancements will be featured at the LASER World of PHOTONICS trade fair in May.
Shorter bursts with higher energy
Contemporary lasers deliver extremely precise, concentrated energy and are ideally suited for many delicate tasks. However, the pulse also generates heat which can damage the target material or tissue, limiting the laser’s usefulness on certain materials. The next-generation ultrashort pulse laser with bursts of just a few picoseconds or less can cut into or remove material before enough heat is generated to damage it.
Separating composite materials without delamination
According to Dr. Gyu C. Cho, Executive Vice President of ultrashort pulse fiber-laser pioneer IMRA, ultrashort pulse lasers will soon be used for precision processing of transparent materials and extremely hard, brittle materials. Dr. Cho also anticipates cutting composite materials which would burn or delaminate at the edges if cut with classic lasers or other methods. Dr. Cho believes that the first industries that will profit from ultrashort pulse lasers include display manufacturing and the semiconductor and microelectronics industry.
Increasingly thinner and harder glass touchscreens on Smartphones are a good example: “Picosecond lasers such as 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 Christof Siebert, Senior Manager for Microprocessing Applications at Trumpf Laser- und Systemtechnik.
“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,” explained Trumpf expert Christof Siebert. He will chair an Application Panel on the “Latest Applications for Shortpulse Laser Systems”.
Trend: shorter pulses and higher average power
According to Mr. 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 500W range. “At the Fraunhofer ILT, a prototype of a 1kW 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 300m/s, and a multiple-beam optics system to parallelize processing by more than two orders of magnitude.
Besides technical feasibility, costs play a large role in these recent developments. Experts at Jenoptik plan to use higher power lasers to increase productivity, offsetting the costs of 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.
USP lasers in medicine also on the rise
USP lasers also offers great advantages in medical technology. The most rapidly growing application over the past two years “is the use of ultrashort pulse lasers in laser refractive cataract surgery (LRCS)”, explains Dr. Matthias Schulze, Marketing Director at Coherent. 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. He predicts that “compact lasers will make it possible to use smaller treatment stations, and higher pulse rates will make operation times even shorter.”
About LASER World of PHOTONICS
LASER World of PHOTONICS, the leading international LASER trade fair, takes place at the Messe München trade-fair center from May 13 – 16, 2013.
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 München 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:
The conference program is rounded out by application panels featuring practical lectures about laser and photonics applications organized by Messe München. Additional information: www.photonics-congress.com
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 Messe München 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.
Journalist accreditation is now online: http://www.world-of-photonics.net/en/laser/press/accreditation
The press release and respective pictures can be found at www.world-of-photonics.net/en/laser/press/pressreleases
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
SOURCE: Messe München International