Cailabs develops laser head for high-power surface treatment applications

Cailabs, a French deep-tech company and beam shaping expert, has launched a new version of its CANUNDA-HP laser head for high-power surface treatment applications.

The head generates an extremely homogeneous and well-defined rectangular beam profile, which is particularly useful for the automated draping of composite fibers. This innovative process is used in aeronautics for the automated manufacturing of lighter parts to reduce fuel consumption.

The device is perfectly suited to high-powered surface treatment processes, such as heating unidirectional composite strips, hardening or polishing metals, and cleaning surfaces.

"The product we have developed has a very specific function: it produces a rectangular shaped beam, referred to in the jargon as a 'top-hat', i.e. with a homogeneous light intensity and very sharp edges," explained Gwenn Pallier, CANUNDA Product Line Manager at Cailabs. "This makes it possible to provide energy evenly and precisely over a very specific area."

The head combines compactness and high-quality beam shaping in a turnkey system. The compact, lightweight design gives it a serious advantage, as it can be fitted to robotized machines, in particular in the aeronautics and automotive industries.

"Designing products that are suitable for industrial environments is our priority," continued Pallier. "This module can be easily integrated thanks to its specially adapted connector and integrated cooling system."

This product was developed to meet the needs of a French industrial leader Coriolis Composites, which designs and produces automated fiber placement machines dedicated to the manufacturing of parts in composite material. This manufacturing technique is used in aeronautics to build lighter components that are just as strong as those built using conventional metallic materials.

"Thermoplastic resins are recyclable and can be reused during the process, but they need to be heated to a high temperature, which can only be achieved with a laser," explained Yvan Hardy, Technical Director of Coriolis Composites. "The main challenge is to integrate the laser head on our machines. Ensuring a small footprint on our robotic arms is an absolute priority, and CANUNDA-HP enabled us to meet this requirement. An added bonus was that we were able to work with a local company."

Coriolis Composites tasked Cailabs with designing the beam shaping modules to be fitted on one of their machines: the C-Solo. The homogeneous and well-defined laser beam profile also increases the quality of the parts produced, providing strong adhesion and cohesion between layers.

CANUNDA-HP Top-Hat Shaper is a new addition to the high-power range of the CANUNDA product line, which already includes the CANUNDA-HP Ring Shaper (for laser welding processes). It confirms the company's objective to offer off-the-shelf products: "Our response to customer requirements is based on a very strong philosophy at Cailabs: to offer standard industrial solutions," explained Guillaume Bouquet, CANUNDA Sales Manager at Cailabs. "These solutions can then be enhanced with accessories or options to match more specific demands and offer a wide range of possibilities to a wide variety of applications."

Cailabs will continue its development by demonstrating its product's performance in other fields of application: "The next challenge for the CANUNDA-HP Top-Hat Shaper is laser hardening, a technique used in the automotive industry to selectively modify the mechanical properties of a material," concluded Guillaume Bouquet.