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TresClean Report Summary

Project ID: 687613
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TresClean (High ThRoughput lasEr texturing of Self-CLEANing and antibacterial surfaces)

Reporting period: 2016-04-01 to 2017-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The aim of TresClean is to demonstrate high-throughput laser-based manufacturing applied to the production of plastic and metal components in consumer white goods and liquid filling machines through the development and novel implementation of high-average power ultrashort pulsed lasers in combination with high-performance optical devices and beam delivery systems.
The motivation for the project is to go far beyond the state of the art in laser surface texturing and gain industrial relevance by applying such a technique over large areas of machine parts or tools. The gap between the lab-tested feasibility of these laser-treated surfaces and the production for real applications will be bridged. Among the array of industrial applications that could exploit functionalised surfaces, the project is focused on producing self-cleaning and fluid-repellent machine parts for the food industry and home appliances to deliver easier maintenance and longer service life. Ultrashort pulsed laser irradiation under highly controlled conditions can be utilised to produce hierarchical micro and nanoscale surface features, leading to superhydrophobic behaviour and a reduction in bacterial adhesion responsible for biofouling

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

WP1 –state of the art in wettability of surfaces was reviewed. Industrial prototypes (stainless-steel pipe and water tank of dishwasher machines) and their most relevant requirements (surface roughness, treatments, cleaning procedures, geometry etc.) were identified. The procedure for evaluating the performance of textured surfaces was also determined.
WP2 –ultrashort-pulsed laser texturing was identified as an appropriate technique for producing antibacterial surfaces. Appropriate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were developed for evaluation of laser-textured surfaces in terms of antibacterial performance. A design of experiments was developed, executed and characterised, providing important guidelines. Features necessary to achieve superhydrophobic behaviour and minimise bacteria contact area were obtained with Laser Induced Periodic Surface Structures (LIPSS).
WP3 –several morphologies were obtained in a laser-texturing parametric study. The characteristic feature size for each different morphology varied from a few hundreds of nm to tens of µm. Bacterial adhesion tests were performed with the average residual microorganism density on the surface measured in each case. For Direct Laser Interference Patterning (DLIP) of large areas, different novel optical setups were developed. First experiments showed that the setup fulfils the requirements of structuring different geometries as defined in WP2. Results show that processing at shorter wavelengths is less efficient for producing bumps and spikes topographies but allows generation of smaller-size nanostructures. The effect of pulse duration on surface topography was investigated for different values of surface energy dose and repetition rates. Results show that the wetting properties do not have any significant dependence on laser pulse duration over the tested parameter range.
WP4 –design of a thin-disk multi-pass pre-amplifier was conducted to achieve an output power of 1kW at the end of the amplifier chain. Subsequently, all opto-mechanical parts were ordered to meet design parameters. The pre-amplifier was successfully implemented experimentally, delivering the expected output power of >=100W at a pulse duration of 7.5 ps. Work is ongoing for the implementation of a thin-disk booster. Discussion between consortium members and laser suppliers are ongoing to accelerate system delivery.
WP5 –optical and mechanical design of a new scan head was completed. The new scanning controller with implementation of FPGA algorithms and firmware is currently under development. A new digital servo board with 20 Bit resolution and digital PWM end stage has been designed into the new Polygon Scan Head.
WP6 –development of an analytical heat accumulation model and first validation experiments were performed. Tests were undertaken to assess the ability of upscaling the texturing process utilising two distinct strategies: (i) increasing repetition rate up to 5 MHz and (ii) increasing pulse energy up to 1.7mJ. Experiments showed that both strategies for upscaling the production of LIPSS were successful. The same geometry and wettability properties were achieved as a low speed.
WP8 –the main dissemination channels have been created and launched. Exploitation planning for the project has also started. The IP notification system has been set up and communicated to all partners (training on IP was provided). Products and services which could potentially be developed directly from the project have been identified.
WP9 –communication channels within the project consortium and the Project Management process required for execution of the project were established. A members’ area has been set up which can be accessed by all partners and 3 consortium meetings have been held.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

TresClean aims to transform laser surface texturing from a low productivity process, limited by a lack of power and restricted beam manipulation, to a high-throughput process harnessing ultrashort pulsed high-power lasers and high-speed scanners. The strategy is to work with early adopter customers within the consortium to demonstrate the industrial relevance of laser technology and to support piloting of TresClean systems within their production operations as reference sites. By establishing a platform based on leading key users in their respective sectors, the prospects for wider, receptive, dissemination, exploitation and market acceptance of results across Europe in these important sectors will be strong.
Societal benefit – the reduction in cleaning steps within food manufacturing facilities will also benefit society by helping to cut the use of chemical cleaning products. The process of cleaning machines in the food packaging sector often involves chemicals and large amounts of energy to apply hot water at high pressure to achieve required food preparation standards.
Economic Impact – TresClean will help to secure the competitiveness and economic contribution of important companies in two different sectors with the potential for knowledge transfer to many others. Within the food packaging value chain, from food manufacturer to equipment supplier and, further upstream, to suppliers of components featuring antibacterial surfaces, the project will support the innovation process, health and safety and productivity in a highly competitive and important sector for employment and wealth generation in Europe.
The results of TresClean will demonstrate the industrial relevance of ultrashort pulsed laser-based processing and the applicability of different laser processing strategies facilitated by high average powers and fast scanning capability.
BSH is the largest manufacturer of home appliances in Europe and one of the leading companies in the sector worldwide. The prospect of laser surface texturing being widely adopted based on the success of the reference site within the consortium is a very significant factor in the potential economic impact of TresClean.

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