FUTURIA: New lasers for lightweight marine constructions

Lightweight construction materials are already in use for building the hulls and superstructures of yachts. However, up to now fiber reinforced plastics (FRP) are usually processed using laborious manual labor. Scientists at the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) are thus presently developing innovative laser sources, which could make FRP processing more efficient, flexible, automatable, and thus less expensive.

In the subproject LEWANTE of the joint project FUTURIA, the scientists of the Fiber Optics Group want to develop a tool demonstrator with an emission wavelength of 2 µm. Optical fibers should be coupled with each other, in order to merge the output power of several fiber lasers. Thus they hope to achieve an output power of over 400 watts. With this wavelength, they are expecting better material absorption, such as for glass fiber and aramid fiber reinforced composite materials, as well as for polymers (PA6, PEEK). At the moment, beam sources with wavelengths of 1 µm and 10 µm are being used.

With the completely fiber based laser system, the laser beam will be guided through a standard glass fiber. The advantages are the possibility for hand-guided processing as well as excellent beam quality and beam source brilliance. Due to the wavelength chosen, working with the laser is also eye-safe.

Apart from developing a tool demonstrator, the scientists will also examine the influence of the laser beam with a wavelength of 2 µm on the FRP materials.

LEWANTE  is a subproject in the joint project FUTURIA (Future Tools for Marine Lightweight Construction Materials), which runs from July 1st, 2014 to June 30th, 2017, and is supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie BMWi). FUTURIA is part of the European research program MARTEC II (Maritime Technologies II).