The interaction between the laser beam with mainly metal materials from basic research to industrial contract research is investigated in the Materials and Processes Department. Innovative solutions for applications in the automotive, aerospace and tooling and mold manufacturing industry are being developed. This often takes place in national and international research groups.
In the Joining and Cutting of Metals Group, modern high-power laser sources are used for further developing industrially relevant, macroscopic laser material processes. The focus is on innovative laser hybrid processes for welding and soldering, such as welding of thick steel sheets (up to 20 mm thickness and more), as well as welding dissimilar metals (e.g. steel/Al, Cu/Al). Environmentally relevant themes are important here, such as lightweight metal constructions for the automotive industry, or the more efficient manufacturing of solar thermal power modules using cost-optimized process guidance. Furthermore, laser processing of special shape memory alloys (SMA) for osteosynthesis implants is being investigated. Research on laser cutting is interesting for new materials and for achieving optimized product quality.
The Machines and Controls Group is concerned with laser-guided TIG/GMA welding processes as well as with simulation and process monitoring. Also, system components or even complete laser systems can be developed, including the transfer of new laser processes from the laboratory to the industrial environment and serial production.
The Surface Technology Group is involved not only in surface treatment and modification using laser dispersion and alloying for increasing hardness and wear resistance, but also in the renewal of high value investment goods, and in developing additively manufactured products in the micro- and macro-scale. Within the framework of the current projects, there are applications from the bio-medical field to the aeronautic sector. For example, research is being done on laser melting of SMA in powder form for manufacturing implants, or repairing high thermally stressed turbine blades using mono-crystal crack welding.
Risk analysis for work safety and environmental protection are centrally vital for laser processing. Only if laser safety is strictly adhered according to national and European regulations can new laser processes be transferred to industry. The Laser Safety Group offers consulting for minimizing the primary hazards from laser radiation, and furthermore they are involved in developing personal protection apparel. Also, secondary hazards such as emissions and immissions from hazardous materials during laser processing are analyzed and evaluated. As a consequence, process parameters can be optimized to minimize particular and gaseous process emissions, and exhaust and capture methods can also be adapted.