"Fibre-delivered 1µm wavelength laser sources (i.e Yb-fibre and Yb:YAG disc) have the potential to revolutionise commercial laser cutting, which is currently dominated by CO2 lasers. Currently, 95% of lasers used in cutting applications are CO2 lasers, of which ~40% are used in Europe. The potential benefits of replacing CO2 lasers with new, 1µm wavelength fibre or disc lasers are significant, in terms of economy of operation, increased processing speed and reduced energy consumption
It is generally accepted that fibre-delivered lasers are capable of cutting plate material up to 15mm in thickness. Compared with CO2 laser cutting, speeds up to 3 times faster are achievable with fibre-delivered lasers, for material thicknesses up to 3mm. Above this critical thickness, the end-user has to accept a significant reduction of the cutting speed and the cut quality. As a result, the potential benefits of fibre-delivered laser cutting are not being realised.
The FILCO project will develop, for the first time, a laser process head specifically for cutting fibre-delivered laser sources. This cutting head will employ two major innovations.
1. The first will involve new beam forming optics that will create uniform absorption of the incident laser light, by altering the angle of incidence of the laser beam with respect to that of the cutting front.
2. The second will involve the development of special supersonic assist gas nozzles which will maximise removal of material from the smaller cutting kerfs possible with the highly focussed 1 micron laser light.
With these advances coupled into a new cutting head, cutting performance better than that of a CO2 laser cutting system will be achieved for materials up to 15mm thick, in terms of both cut quality and process speed. The primary market being targeted by the FILCO consortium is that for new sheet metal laser cutting systems – a market worth approximately €1.6 Billion globally in 2009, and expected to grow to €2.85 Billion by 2015"
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeBSG-SME - Research for SMEs
NG7 2TR Nottingham