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Enabling advanced functionalities of Diamond and other ultra-hard materials by Integrated Pulsed Laser Ablation Technologies

Periodic Report Summary 1 - DIPLAT (Enabling advanced functionalities of Diamond and other ultra-hard materials by Integrated Pulsed Laser Ablation Technologies)

Project Context and Objectives:
Diamond and other ultra-hard materials possess outstanding mechanical, wear and thermal properties, which make them attractive to manufacture a wide range of high value-added products, such as high-performance smart tools. However, due to the extreme properties of this group of materials, efficient and precise generation of complex 3D freeform geometries and structures to meet the needs for a further development of high-performance tools is still a challenge. DIPLAT addresses the need for an efficient, precise and flexible processing technology for ultra-hard materials in tooling applications, in order to fully exploit the potential of these materials. By smartly utilizing the advantages of high brilliance short and ultra-short pulsed lasers, a tooling technology based on 3D Pulsed Laser Ablation (PLA) is developed and demonstrated for various industrial applications. DIPLAT introduces a new technology platform for producing ultra-hard tools with enhanced functionality, outstanding machining performance and superior lifetime.

In this regard, DIPLAT fosters the following four main scientific and technological objectives:
1) Design functional surfaces (with controlled micro geometries) on diamond and other ultra-hard materials to enable enhanced functionality for tooling applications;
2) Study and development of advanced 3D processing strategies for structuring/conditioning of ultra-hard tool surfaces and superabrasive grain layers by Pulsed Laser Ablation;
3) Develop and implement a novel multi-axis control concept and a model-based CAM software support module to enable optimized 3D pulsed laser processing;
4) Fabrication of various novel prototype tools made of ultra-hard materials and demonstration of their superior performance and functionality in challenging industrial applications.

Project Results:
The present project period mainly focused on the fundamental aspects of process and technology development, in order to build a basis for the subsequent fabrication of industrial prototype tools and corresponding benchmark tests. Major achievements of this period are:

• The technology end-user in the consortium geometries and manufacturing problems which cannot or only insufficiently be solved by conventional tooling technologies.
• Required experimental setups for pulsed laser processing of ultra-hard tool materials have been developed by the RTD performers (ETHZ and UNOTT) to carry out their project tasks.
• Novel laser processing strategies for 3D multi-axis processing of diamond and CBN structures with particular attention to micro and macro tooling applications have been developed.
• An ablation model based on single-pulse footprint calibration has been developed and calibrated for picosecond and nanosecond pulsed laser ablation of diamond materials.
• Based on a prototype 5+3 laser micromachining center, a scanhead – machine kinematic synchronisation concept has been developed by extending the existing hardware of the machine.
• First tool prototypes have been produced by the developed laser processes and initial machining tests with generic laboratory tool prototypes have been performed.
• Based on the developments of the first project period, two patent applications on novel processing strategies and tool designs have been submitted.

Potential Impact:
DIPLAT will lead to a technological breakthrough that will push European manufacturing industries to the cutting edge of high-performance machining and tooling technology. Based on the results of the present project period, it is anticipated that the project outcome will have significant influence on the way how ultra-hard tools are produced in the future. Moreover, the developed technology will enable entirely new possibilities with respect to tool design and feature fabrication. In this context, a major competitive advantage for highly specialised SME’s in the tooling and tooling machinery sector is expected.

Further information on the progress of the project can be found on www.fp7-diplat.eu.

List of Websites:
www.fp7-diplat.eu