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Development of a tunable ultrafast production laser system for the multicolour and photographic laser decoration and customer specific finishes on polymeric products


A UV tuneable CeLiCAF laser: 280- 315 nm
- A pre-prototype laser decoration system (LDS) tuneable in VIS part of the spectrum: 440-660 nm, operating at 1 kHz (at start 30Hz). The LDS possesses a galvo head steered laser beam, which allows for software controlled, flexible photographic decorations on fixed polymeric products (at start: the product had to be moved on an X-Y table through the beam, pictures were made by sticking masks on the sample). The LDS has improved laser pulse, e.g. circular dots are available (at the start: "moon shaped" marks were made) and fibre technology to improve the quality of the beam profile (to flat hat) and pulse-to-pulse stability of two of the three wavelengths (440 and 532 nm).
Specifications for an optimal multi colour laser decoration system.
New material compositions for foils, lacquers and thermoplastic materials with increased temperature stability (up to ca. 240 °C) leading to bright laser colours with more contrast and higher resolution.
The possibility to take a colour picture with a digital camera and (after software conversion) write it into a polymeric surface.
A design for an ID card with a high security feature, unprecedented in the market.
In industry, one can see two seemingly conflicting
movements: increasing mass production for low cost
manufacturing and increasing diversity to attain optimum
adaptation to customer requirements. The combination of
these trends is called MASS CUSTOMISATION. A very
important aspect of product diversity is appearance. To
do mass customisation of the appearance of products in a
cost effective way, there is a strong industrial need for
an ULTRA FAST, flexible software controlled, appealing,
full colour decoration technique (= customisation,
diversification) at the END of the production line (mass
production). This technique must give 100% yield, because
the products have already been assembled. This project
aims to develop a production system for multicolour and
appealing PHOTOGRAPHIC decoration of products using a
software controlled laser system. The products can be
made of plastic, or can be finished with paint or foil.
The new, ultra fast, laser system changes the colour of
dyes IN the product surface, using visible and IR
wavelengths, thus creating multicolour and photographic
images. The new technology will have many benefits:
- appealing customised products
- increased market share: fast reaction to market
- increased market share: reduction of stock
- cost reduction easy to write any language on a
- social benefit: no wet solvent printing needs
- environmental benefit: enhanced recyclability of
Results of the project will be:
1. A production PROCESS, comprising a new LASER SYSTEM
with a software controlled mask, new MATERIALS and the
related process knowledge to reach the aims described
above. 2. A reliable, ULTRA FAST, industrial LASER SYSTEM
(including a software controlled mask module), tunable in
the visible and IR light spectra, to ensure multicolour
and photographic decoration. The main innovation is that
the system will be 10 x MORE POWERFUL and 100 x FASTER
than today's tunable systems.
3. POLYMERS (plastics, paints, foils) giving MULTICOLOUR
and PHOTOGRAPHIC EFFECTS using this laser system. The
main innovation lies in the new additives (colorants,
dyes) and additive/polymer mixtures used to give these
materials their base colours. The additives will be
optimised to get multicolour effects using the laser
system. In the last phase of the project, the SYLADEC
laser will be installed in a pilot line to test the
reliability and flexibility in industrial surroundings,
and to demonstrate the capabilities of the new
technology. The total direct and indirect economical
benefits of the project amount up to 300 MECU/year for
full implementation in European industry. The consortium
comprises the complete chain: a leading manufacturer in
the European plastics market, with great experience in
laser decoration; the world leader in the manufacture of
colorants; Europe's biggest player in tunable laser
systems; one of the world's largest manufacturer of
consumer electronics products; the world's largest
manufacturer of decorative foils; two Universities with
great experience in the chemistry of colours and colour
forming systems.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


1,Koestraat 3
6167 RA Geleen

Participants (7)

Ciba-Geigy Ltd.

1723 Marly 1
1,Wetenschapspark 1, Universitaire Campus
3590 Diepenbeek
Lambda Physik GmbH
12,Hans-böckler-straße 12
37079 Göttingen
Leonhard Kurz GmbH & Co. KG
482,Schwabacker Strasse 482
90763 Fuerth
Nederlandse Philips Bedrijven BV
5600 MD Eindhoven
ORGA Kartensysteme GmbH
An Der Kapelle 2
33104 Paderborn
United Kingdom
Park Place, Main Building
CF10 3TB Cardiff