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Research project to improve properties of steel strip surfaces


ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe (TKSE), the Fraunhofer Institute for Materials and Beam Technology IWS, and Limo have initiated development work on a new laser technology that the partners will use to improve the properties of steel strip surfaces.

This is Dortmund-based Limo Lissotschenko Mikrooptik’s largest joint research project to date, with the company contributing €3.6 million to help fund the initiative, known as OSLO. The collaboration is part of a research project by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and is scheduled to be completed by 2017.

Together, the collaborators will investigate how the properties of ferrous steel strip materials can be influenced by laser surface treatment in a continuous in-line wide-strip process. A laser can heat the steel's surface layers to provide better corrosion protection. The process is also energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, since the laser only heats the surface, rather than the entire volume of the strip.

‘To enable these types of short-time surface treatments, a laser system never before available anywhere in the world has to create a length-scalable, uniform and extremely thin line of light,’ said Dr Jens Meinschien, vice president innovations management at Limo. ‘To meet this challenge, we're engineering a powerful 35kW semiconductor laser featuring sophisticated beam shaping and high beam quality.’ Using this new Limo laser system, the OSLO project partners aim to develop a new type of laser surface treatment, and possibly bring it to maturity for an eventual series production.

Meinschien added: ‘Under the moniker “photonics industry meets steel industry”, this collaboration between big industry, small business and research delivers a synergy effect that will help secure Germany's role as a centre of steel manufacturing. Limo plans to use OSLO to expand its position as a manufacturer of tools of light for large-area surface processing and is looking to position itself as a long-term supplier of the steel industry.’

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