UK’s National Robotarium has developed a new 3D laser beam manufacturing method to meet the exact manufacturing requirements of products.
According to the scientists, this new approach depends on melting or vaporising the material, and it requires the laser’s energy to be focused on the right points. Once perfected, it could help improve efficiency and precision while molding materials into specific shapes.
“This is cutting-edge technology in every sense of the phrase,” says UK government minister for Scotland, Iain Stewart.
“These 3D lasers are set to unlock previously unheard of levels of precision and so transform our manufacturing and medical technology industries, boosting the UK’s global reputation for innovation and attracting jobs and further investment.”
According to project lead and Heriot-Watt University assistant professor Dr Richard Carter, the new technique could be harnessed to improve how holes for sensors and cameras on smartphone screens are drilled and to increase the density of information on semiconductor chips.
“Manufacturing is of key strategic importance to the UK, with a particular focus on high-tech and high-value manufacturing.”
“This research will address the priority area of digital manufacturing, enabling a bespoke, rapid response capability for the first time,” says Carter.
“The new methods we are developing represent a paradigm shift in the capabilities of laser-based manufacturing, making it possible to move between 3D beam shapes with zero down-time, low cost and minimal technical know-how.
“Through collaboration with our industry partners, we’ll be able to develop the lasers in line with what industry needs, providing solutions to manufacturing challenges across a wide range of sectors.”
Apart from precision manufacturing, Carter says the technology could aid research in quantum technology, waveguide physics and the bio-sciences – “anywhere where light must be controlled and manipulated.”
The National Robotarium is currently working with PowerPhotonic, Oxford Lasers and the G&H Group to test their new approach in real-life industrial settings.
Image and content: National Robotarium via The Engineer