Drilling rivet holes in CFRP with the laser - efficient process for series components

With the laser drilling process developed by the LZH, different laminates, even when place on top of each other, can be drilled quickly and precisely. (Photo: CFK Valley e.V.

The laser-based drilling process and the system have been tested on so-called aviation cargo struts. (Photo: LZH)

In the LaBoKomp project, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and four partners have developed a laser-based system for drilling rivet holes in composite materials. The LZH was significantly involved in the development of the underlying process and the required system technology. They were able to drastically reduce the drilling time per hole for laser-based processes.

The LZH scientists successfully tested the laser drilling process and the system on so-called "cargo struts". These are C-shaped struts stabilize the cargo hold floor. With a drilling time of less than 10 seconds per hole, the new method is now on a par with conventional ones – without the disadvantage of tool wear or the risk of delamination.

Precise, fast and flexible
The automated process is based on a specifically developed software. It enables drilling strategies in which parameters can be continuously adjusted during the process. This enables an optimal quality of the holes, which also meets aviation standards. The project partner INVENT GmbH was able to demonstrate that the laser-drilled holes are equivalent to conventional holes. Whole work orders can be programmed by specifying a few variables. The process is continuously monitored by thermography and the heat dissipation is regulated based on this.

The system was planned and designed in cooperation with the KMS Technology Center GmbH, and then put into operation at the LZH. The system includes a new type of laser from the associated partner TRUMPF Laser GmbH. The assemblies developed by KMS can be changed flexibly and adapted to different applications.

Drilling multiple laminates possible
The system and the process are suitable for all CFRP types commonly used in aviation, as well as laminates with GFRP top layers and copper mesh. It is also possible to drill different laminates placed on top of each other.

About LaBoKomp
The LaBoKomp project (grant no. 13N14111) was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the scope of the funding initiative "KMU-innovativ: Photonik". In addition to the LZH, the INVENT GmbH, the KMS Technology Center GmbH as well as the TRUMPF Laser GmbH and the Premium AEROTEC GmbH were involved.

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Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH)

As an independent, non-profit research institute, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) stands for innovative research, development and consulting. The LZH is supported by the Niedersachsen Ministry of Economic Affairs, Employment, Transport and Digitalisation and is dedicated to the selfless promotion of applied research in the field of photonics and laser technology. Founded in 1986, over 170 employees are now working for the LZH.

The focus of the LZH lies on the fields of optical components and systems, optical production technologies, and biomedical photonics. Interdisciplinary cooperation between natural scientists and mechanical engineers makes innovative approaches to challenges from the most different areas possible: from the development of components for specific laser systems to process developments for the most diverse laser applications, for example for medical technology or lightweight construction in the automotive sector. Eighteen spin off companies have emerged from the LZH up to now. Thus, the LZH has created a strong transfer between fundamental science, application oriented research, and industry.