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Pulsed Rapid ultra-short laser surface texturing for Manufacture of FlexiblE and CusTomisEd ProdUctS

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PROMETHEUS (Pulsed Rapid ultra-short laser surface texturing for Manufacture of FlexiblE and CusTomisEd ProdUctS)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2020-06-30

PROMETHEUS’ project is bridging the existing gap between niche and mainstream applications for high power ultra-short pulse laser surface processing. This advanced technology enables the production of materials with advanced properties such as non-stick, low wear/friction, oleophobic or hydrophobic. The project is working on finding the best approaches to deliver a broad range of surface functionalities onto metals, polymers and ceramics by way of high throughput, high spatial resolution Direct Laser Interference Patterning (DLIP) surface processing. PROMETHEUS is expecting to deliver unprecedented surface texturing speeds of up to 5 m2/min and enable high resolution features down to 1 μm to be produced with minimal heat impact on work pieces.

The project represents a pan-European EU consortium of world leading organizations, from industrial and research partners to four manufacturers – Maier, Johnson and Johnson, Fiat Chrysler Automobile group and Arcelik – that will be able to assess the project’s outputs against current industrial processes. Wrapping up the three-year project, and through breakthrough developments in laser sources, optics, process setup, control and monitoring, the consortium will deliver an integrated laser processing demonstrator system to showcase its capabilities according to the established goals. PROMETHEUS is addressing some of the key European 2020 societal challenges, both by ensuring that European companies and research organizations stay at the leading edge of the new manufacturing technologies and by creating new jobs opportunities. At the same time, the project will minimize environmental impacts. The new approaches to surface engineering made possible by this technology will have an impact on the increase in R&D spending, both in photonic component development necessary to control the increased power densities and in widespread application development. The exceptionally high processing rate enables cost-effective processing to price-sensitive industrial sectors such as the consortium partners, spanning automotive, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), white goods and consumer durables.

Overall objectives:
- Manufacture textured functional surfaces utilising fewer raw materials, less energy and less waste.
- Improve accuracy, power and control over existing technologies.
- Achieve fast materials processing with processing speeds 2-5 m2/min, representing a significant increase on current laser techniques.
- Increase achievable precision.
- Minimize heat impact on sensitive materials.
- Increase productivity.
- Increase achievable flexibility and product customization.
- Significantly reduce processing costs.
- Industrial case study requirements capture and specification
- Definition of the requirements and specification for the several components of the PROMETHEUS system: laser, optical elements and DLIP
- Definition of the first approach for the system design and integration in the final assembled machine
- Definition of the requirements from the final user of the system perspective, including: functional, performance and operational requirements

- Definition of the laser specifications
- Design of the laser head
- Simulation analysis for the laser oscillator
- Successful development of the oscillator
- Development of the amplifier architecture
- Scheme and experimental set-up of the fibre coupling
- Arrangements for testing of fibre coupling
- Fiber design completed
- Preform manufactured

- Design of the optical DLIP module for high speed structuring completed
- Manufacturing of the module prototype is on-going
- Validation of the module is on-going
- Simulation analysis: optical simulation and FEM thermal simulations being carried out

- Initial surface texture definitions (based on literature review) is completed for the case studies
- The surface texturing work programme is being defined - each end-user is being supported by one RTD partner to evaluate and work on the case studies
- DLIP set-ups for the trails have been settled by the RTD partners in order to test and work on the case studies (while the PROMETHEUS system is being developed in parallel)
- JJVC case study is under revision
- The process window analysis for each of the case studies has started to be investigated

- Analysis of characteristic optical signals and modelling of surface texturing has been completed including:
> Direct measures of the textures using: confocal microscope, laser scanning microscope, SEM and AFM
> Analysis of the measures by use of an algorithm developed in the project to allow for the selection of the best textures
> Simulations analysis by RCWA software to assess pattern's validity
- Development of the laser diffractographic inspection system is being finalised
- Development of the scatterometric system is being finalised
- Investigation of data processing and control approaches has been initiated
- The calibration techniques are currently being investigated

- Simulation analysis performed for the automotive case study (stamping tool)

- Development of the necessary dissemination materials
- Promotion of the project in the relevant means: presentations, publication of article, social media interaction, project dedicated website
- Definition of an initial exploitation strategy for the overall system and for each partner individually
- Assessment of the freedom to operate
Progress beyond the state of the art:
- Ultra-Short Pulse (USP) lasers from EW with pulse duration <10 ns, power > 1 kW and pulse repetition rates above 500 Hz
- Direct Laser Interference Patterning (DLIP) from FRAUNHOFER with multiple length-scale periodic patterns with processing speed 2-5 m2/min
- Laser beam manipulation by HOLO-OR – A novel M2 transformation beam shaping method based on diffractive optics – m2 beam quality <5 or spatial coherence >15% and coherence length 3 mm
- Process monitoring and control from AIMEN and IRIS – development of new tool compatible with the unique set-up of DLIP
- Fibre delivery by PHOT – industrial fibres that transmit peak power densities in the range 5-50 GW/cm2 over a minimum 3 m length

Expected Results until the end of the project:
– M2 Transformation DLIP Module
– Diffractometry Monitoring Solution
– High power nano laser
– Fibre 1.2 mm
– Scatterometry Monitoring Solution
– Texture Functionality
– Design of hollow core antiresonant fibre for high power delivery without dielectric breakdown
– Testing methodologies deriving from PROMETHEUS
– High-speed Laser Texturing through multiple modules
– Texturized demonstrators for the end-users

Potential Impacts:
1. Strengthening industrial manufacturing based on USP lasers and extending its field of application by simultaneous improvement of precision and productivity; significant contribution to the digitization of European industry
2. Substantial contribution to digital photonic production with increased productivity, flexibility and customized products at significantly reduced costs
3. Environmental and Societal Impacts:
– Replacement of chemical etching processes resulting in reduced harmful chemical usage
– High-throughput efficient material removal at up to 5m2/minute
– USP technology can be used on a range of diverse materials
– Improved wear properties on mould tools will reduce the need for lubricants and existing lubricant removal washing processes and increase the lifetime of tools overall