Industrial sectors (e.g. automotive, aerospace, biomedical or machine-tooling) need to manufacture high value added products without increasing their costs, rationalising the use of resources and maintaining the productivity levels. One of the methods that is currently used to increase product performance is the improvement of the surface properties of the materials. In this context, surface laser texturing has a high commercial potential, since it can improve the characteristics of the product without altering the chemical composition of the surface, and without the need to add coating elements. With regards to other texturing techniques, such as those that use chemical compounds, the advantage of laser texturing techniques is their low environmental impact. In fact, they have the lowest impact on the environment.
The Laser4Surf project is developing an innovative Laser Texturing Prototype for the functionalisation of material surfaces using lasers with ultrashort pulses (lasers with femtosecond pulses). This prototype will serve as a platform for the development of a scalable technology, which will allow it to be implemented in industrial production lines.
Key aims of the project:
- Generating LIPSS with patterns of different sizes and multiple orientations. These structures and orientations will be combined to obtain the required functionalities
- Reducing the processing time by 95%
- Allowing the process to be inspected during the manufacturing of submicrometric structures
- Facilitating the definition of the process parameters
- The development of this system will be tested in three different industrial sectors.
- Energy sector: to increase the efficiency of battery electrodes
- Biotechnology sector: to improve the biocompatibility of medical prostheses
- Manufacturing sector: to improve the manufacturing of position encoders
Fagor’s contribution to the project focuses on this last sector. It will be one of the three end users of the technology, which will be implemented in one of its main areas of application: position encoders. In the linear and angular encoder field, this cutting-edge technology offers an advantage that is particularly important nowadays: it is an alternative to photolithographic processes. Currently, encoders are manufactured using photolithographic procedures. This industrial process requires the use of chemical
products and a high consumption of water. The new laser treatment process only uses light-matter interaction, with no need for additional elements. It doesn’t even generate manometric waste, as is the case in laser ablation processes.
In this way, Fagor Automation is contributing to the development of laser technologies, as well as to a more ecofriendly and sustainable future.