Open-loop laser welding and cutting of metals has developed into a widely used technology in industrial production. The processes are, however, inherently difficult to control and limited to "non-demanding applications" which have a large process window. A new range of application will amerge if highly reflective and highly heat-conductive materials could be processed. Nowadays this is limited by the fact that relatively minor differences in surface condition of the metal and instability of the laser focus will cause dramatic effect on the absorbed laser energy. Here advanced and intelligent process control is the key to further application. Advanced laser welding and cutting of metals is still an emerging technology, which is the subject of extensive research efforts in Germany (150 MECU 1987-1992; 160 MECU 1993-1997), Japan (70 MECU in 1997-2001). In USA one can notice distributed laser research activities in this field.
The proposed IMS-project SLAPS is aimed at basic improvement in several aspects towards an 'Intelligent laser processing cell:
- reliability ) going down from 10000ppm to the range 500-1000 ppm;
- portability - moving laser material processes on a global scale (not possible now);
- time-to-market - decrease the produciton set-up time from months to weeks.
Its scope extends to the following laser beam manufacturing processes: micro-spot laser beam welding (for electronic devices application, sensors, and other micro applications), advanced laser beam seam welding (for ship building and motor car body assembling) and well-controlled laser beam cutting.
L%The improvement will be achieved through: development of multi-sensor process monitoring, integrated into a small but robust processing head, development of intelligent modules, Neural Network based, for automated classification as well as for adaptive and real-time process control, development of a reliable vision module, based on CMOS image sensors, for real time laser beam position control, development of CAD/CAM interface (set-up time reduction and portability).
Besides the technical aspects, the SLAPS project will address the marketing and economics of laser processing from the very beginning which will allow a substantial reduction of the time to market and global introduction of the technology. In this inter-regional project the European part consists of 11 parners: 4 equipment providing partners (all SME's), 3 industrial-user partners (of which 2 are multi-nationals) in the automotive, consumer electronics and shipbuilding sectors, 3 universities and one research centre. The American and Japanese modiles will be described in the Interregional Proposal.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
10043 Orbassano Torino
5100 Odense C
10090 Cascine Vica , Rivoli (Torino)