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Non aggressive internal engraving laser system

Final Report Summary - NAGINELS (Non aggressive internal engraving laser system)

The main objective of the NAGINELS project was to validate that a new Femto laser technology (with short pulse duration and high repetition rate) can be made cheap and reliable enough to be embedded in a control process applied to decoration, antifraud and normative marking end-uses. This control system should lead to acceptable process stability and dependability performances.

This overall objective was split into five separate subobjectives:
O1: To validate that the Femto laser technology can generate codes with ultrashort pulses and be controlled in order to be implemented in the glass manufacturing industry (antifraud, normative marking) with sufficient stability properties.
O2: To validate that the Femto laser technology can generate ultra-short pulses and novel decorations, at repetition rates compatible with process productivity targets of the decoration industry (say one decorated bottle in less than five seconds).
O3: To validate antifraud and normative marking applications which involve low cost recognition systems coupled with Femto laser markings.
O4: To measure decoration rates of pieces of glass using three dimensions (3D) in depth engravings based on Femto lasers.
O5: To provide the Small and medium-sized enteprise (SME) contractors with the full system cost of ownership targets which will have to be met during the industrialisation steps of the technology.

The new internal engraving process:
- does not fragilise the materials;
- is not alterable;
- is high quality (high accuracy (a few micrometre);
- less dependence upon quality material than carbon dioxide (CO2) and YAG laser;
- no microcracks measured;
- no samples broken after hard stress simulation.
After the development of the new laser, new vision system and control / command system, two validations phases have been completed. The results are very good and all the targets defined in the beginning of the project for normative and anticounterfeiting applications were met. For decorative application, process is too slow (or too expensive).

Two lasers were tested in Work package (WP) 1:
- high energy laser oscillator;
- 10 kHz laser amplifier.
Following the results of WP1 and the first design study of amplitude, the consortium has chosen the amplifier configuration and has decided in the development to place a special emphasis on processing speed.

The new laser developed has the following specifications:
- pulse energy compatible with all applications;
- pulse duration non aggressive process;
- beam quality high resolution, small spot size.

In comparison to the initial performances expected, the consortium has decided to be more ambitious by increasing the repetition rate by 10. This should reduce speed obtained during the validation phase by a factor 5 or 10 depending of the applications:
- repetition rate 100 kHz better than expected to reduce process time;
- industrial specifications sealed, rugged laser source.

The vision systems have been developed for normative and anticounterfeiting applications. They have been manufactured and validated on samples of WP1 and on new samples realised during a validation phase during the WP3 in Bordeaux.

- Backlight with a mask aligned with camera's axis is the optimum lighting solution to read datamatrix codes made by structural change and refractive index change.
- Marking by structural and refractive index change give the best results in terms of reading performances.
- Datamatrix code from 1x1 mm to 60x60 micrometre are readable.
- One CCD camera mounted with one special lens can cover data-matrix size from 1x1 mm to 60x60 micrometre.

The prototype is not supposed to be an industrial unit but it must be realistic in terms of working rate, accuracy, reliability and safety concept. The prototype covers the engraving (marking) process (laser) and the marking verification (vision system). This verification gives an immediate feedback on the readability and quality of the engraved code. The prototype has the flexibility to comply with these specific requirements. It's accurate enough to engrave a code on the small vials, but also able to treat bigger bottles. Development has been finalised during the second year and the manufacturing phase was finished in July. The prototype has been shown during international fair Glasstec 2006 in Düsseldorf.

The present project is expected to contribute to wider societal and policy objectives:
- The NAGINELS project is expected to contribute in the struggle against fraud which is a major force behind the expansion of organised crime, tends to undermine public morality has considerable implications for employment, health, safety and encourages corruption at many levels.
- The absence of any harmful chemicals in the surface processing makes the NAGINELS process much cleaner and environment friendly.
- The NAGINELS process contributes to sustainable development. The femtosecond laser will be much more stable and reproducible, which in turn leads to less scrap or rework. Moreover the laser process does not use any specific chemicals as in surface engraving, which allows possible recycling of the glass bottles.

The NAGINELS technology is of great interest to many different market segments and therefore the strategy behind disseminating the results as efficiently as possible has been multi pronged. The main markets of interest are the following;
- pharmaceutical;
- perfume and cosmetics;
- wines and spirits;
- watches;
- precious stones - diamonds etc.;
- automotive;
- the glass industry.