Prototype in-line monitoring system developed for laser surface structuring
The EU-funded project LAMpAS has announced the successful development of a prototype in-line monitoring system for laser surface structuring.
The system enables process stability monitoring in laser structuring to create functionalised surfaces such as easy-to-clean finishes for ovens, fridges, and other home appliances.
The significance of this new prototype lies in the fact that, until now, a main challenge in microstructuring via direct laser interference patterning has been detecting deviations in the obtained topography of the surfaces.
However, the new prototype system enables this by examining the light reflected from the laser-treated area using a mathematical approach known as Fourier analysis. This is performed by using a low-power laser diode to illuminate the processed surface and a camera to collect the pattern reflected from the surface.
The recorded image is then analysed by an algorithm to reveal changes in the shape and brightness of the reflected pattern. Subtle deviations in the produced topography during the fabrication process can therefore be detected and crucial information about the manufacturing process provided to the user.
The prototype consists of custom designed hardware with easy-to-use software. During development, special focus was given to achieve a compact and robust device. In the next steps, the prototype developers, from the Technische Universität Dresden in Germany, will focus on the final implementation and validation in real industrial manufacturing platforms.
In addition to TU Dresden, partners of the LAMpAS project include: Trumpf, Lasea, Bosch, BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, Next Scan Technology, New Infrared Technologies (NIT), and the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC).
Inspired by nature
LAMpAS was set up in 2019 with a grant of €5.1 million under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. The aim of the project is to develop the potential of laser structuring and to bring the technology to industrial levels at affordable costs.
It enables the design of newly functionalised surfaces by enhancing the efficiency, flexibility and productivity of processes based on the development of a high-power ultrafast laser system together with advanced optical concepts for high-throughput materials processing.
Inspired by nature, the LAMpAS technology aims to produce well-defined periodic surface patterns with feature sizes smaller than 1µm that can provide tailored surface functions for applications including anti-fingerprint, decorative and easy to clean finishes for ovens, fridges and other home appliances.