Volume marking of transparent materials such as quartz, glass or Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) is an emerging technique for the creation of 3-D shapes or models within such materials. High peak power, ultrashort duration pulses from Q-Switched or mode-locked solid state lasers, such as the Neodymium:YAG (Nd:YAG) lasers, are ideal for this application. So far no commercially available system exists that can combine high quality of the marked 3-D pattern, high marking speed, and low laser power and low overall system cost. The envisaged market for this system is relevant, and justifies the development effort: it ranges from microcoding of transparent manufacts for quality control, to consumer objects, to depth engraving of buttons. SEI and PEEK are leading companies in the production of laser-based systems for cutting, marking and engraving metallic as well as non metallic materials. They intend to undertake a joint effort to develop a new system for 3-D volume marking of transparent materials based on the accurate control of laser parameters of a Q-switched laser designed for the purpose, and on the innovative design of high-speed, 3-D scanning heads. Preliminary to this development are: (i) a careful market study, to highlight potential applications, target system cost, number of systems sellable per year in the various applicative domains, and (ii) an accurate feasibility study to investigate the exact parameters of the laser pulses (mode control, material thresholds, pulse trains, energy/power), and to exhaustively verify that the expected system performance (production rate, cost, safety) can be matched.
Funding SchemeEAW - Exploratory awards
5321 JK Hedel