Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) has begun working with Sensortherm and Newson to develop a scanner processing head for fibre-reinforced plastics. It is expected that the head will provide better measurements of a laser during the processing of the fibre-reinforced materials by decoupling the beam and measuring it in real time.
Highly accurate online temperature measurement is especially important for laser processing of fibre-reinforced plastic materials, such as carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP). With the combined scanning head and the associated measurement method, thermally critical areas in the processing geometry can be accurately monitored. This principle builds the foundation for active intervention in the process and its optimisation.
The combined scanning head is intended to decouple the laser beam path from the path of a high speed pyrometer, which is used to measure the temperature of the beam. In this process, the measurement beam of the pyrometer will be guided by separate scanner mirrors. These are especially tuned to the detection wavelength of the pyrometer.
While LZH is developing the affiliated laser processes and the process control for welding and cutting of CFRP materials, Newson, Berlare-Overmere, Belgium, is producing the combined scanning head. A high speed pyrometer for different wavelength ranges is being adapted to this processing head by Sensortherm, Sulzbach, Germany. Sensortherm is also optimizing this pyrometer for laser transmission welding, laser cutting, and material removal. Sensortherm is also optimising this pyrometer for laser transmission welding, laser cutting, and material removal.
CFRPs are considered to be the perfect substitute material for steel in automotive and aircraft production because of its high strength and stiffness. However, tools such as drills and saws wear down quickly on fibre reinforced plastic and the processing and repair of these materials is expensive.
Laser processing is therefore a more suitable and part efficient way to handle these materials due to its non-contact nature. LZH have worked on projects that aim to improve the process in the past. In April 2014, LZH displayed the results of an automated laser-based process for repairing carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) at the Hannover Messe trade fair. The techniques, which were designed to be much more cost-efficient than the existing repair processes and further assist the lightweight materials use in large series production.