A three-year project to develop laser components for a system capable of switching between multiple beam shapes has concluded.
HALO (High power Adaptable Laser beams for materials prOcessing) produced various components for a system that potentially could replace the multiple lasers needed in applications requiring different beam shapes, such as those used in car production lines.
The project was supported by the European Commission through its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and coordinated from photonics specialist Gooch & Housego’s Torquay facility.
Multiple advances were made as a result of the project. The optimal polarisation for sheet metal cutting was identified and the use of high-speed videography during this process was improved. A novel 2µm laser was designed that can select and combine LG modes, with performed trials demonstrating the laser’s ability to cut transparent polymers.
Glass cutting processes were improved with ultrashort pulsed lasers using novel beam shapes and multispot beam patterns. This reduces problems such as micro-cracking and improves both cutting quality and speed.
The most important improvements that were made directly addressed the original goals of the HALO project. Multiple components were developed to help achieve an adaptable beam shape, including: capillary tapers, isolators, acousto-optic modulators, an in-cavity acousto-optic Q-switch, and segmented waveplates.
HALO brought together laser manufacturers such as Trumpf and research organisations such as Fraunhofer ILT with key European component suppliers and end users of industrial laser systems. The project tackled a wide range of laser technologies for processing several important materials, including sheet metal, ceramics and glass.
Work carried out throughout the project included the simulation of cutting processes, development of new components, experiments with novel laser configurations and the establishment of new processing techniques.