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Mass Customisation of the ceramic and glass decoration. A contribution to the Future Manufacturing Industries.

Final Report Summary - CUSTOCER (Mass Customisation of the ceramic and glass decoration. A contribution to the Future Manufacturing Industries)

The objective of this project was to develop a decoration process, based on the use of laser technology, which enables customised manufacture of glass and ceramic tiles. To achieve this objective a study was made of several laser decorating techniques. These have been divided into two groups: deposition and activation techniques. By analysis and development of the relevant materials, selection and adaptation of the laser, and development of a computer tool via the Internet, two demonstrators (deposition and activation) were elaborated that enable the client to customise the decoration of his products.

The results obtained were so satisfactory for the SMEs that they decided to patent the results, because of that, the dissemination of the technical results depends on the patent submission.

The first stage was to evaluate the viability of decorative laser techniques to customise glass and ceramic tiles. Two techniques were industrially researched. The laser fusion technique by means of a high power laser scanning system (HPLSS) with a 2 kW CO2 laser and a decorative laser cladding technique with two types of high power lasers CO2 and Nd:YAG. The milestone set for work package (WP) 2 was to define the most suitable decorative process the point of view of innovative, economical and technical aspects. The laser fusion technique by means of a HPLSS consists of melting a pigment pre-deposited over the surface of different ceramic tiles varied in composition. Several pigments deposited in several conditions with different compositions were investigated. The decorative laser cladding technique consist of melting a colouring powder pigments feeded over the tiles and glass and melted simultaneously with the laser beam. Several pigments like blue, black, yellow and red were researched. Successful results were obtained. Thus, the decorative laser cladding technique was defined as the most suitable technique due to economical, technical and innovative aspects to develop a decorative process in an industrial manner.

The result was the deposition a colouring ceramic layers with relieves. No extra heating was required except form the energy of the laser beam. The best results were obtained with a CO2 laser. Several compositions and pigments concentrations of blue, black, yellow and red were tested under several CAD models.

Along with the definition of the use cases and the modelling of the process chain, a novel software architecture has been investigated. The prototype system is based on the principles of service orientation, loose-coupling and reuse of functionality and uses Web 2.0 technology. The NC-code generation and CAD-data transformations have been implemented as XML-based web services. The interoperability between Microsoft .Net WSE 3.0 services and Sun JEE JAX-WS 2.0 could be demonstrated. The customer front end is AJAX-based and is implemented with Google's web toolkit.