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Pulsed Rapid ultra-short laser surface texturing for Manufacture of FlexiblE and CusTomisEd ProdUctS

A range of surface functionalities at unprecedented processing speeds

A range of surface functionalities at unprecedented processing speeds

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The overall aim of PROMETHEUS is to develop high power ultra-short pulse lasers and the associated optics to enable the precise periodic texturing of surfaces to impart a range of surface functionalities at unprecedented processing speeds.

Key Overarching Objectives:

The PROMETHEUS project a number of broad qualitative objectives, including;

  • To manufacture textured functional surfaces utilising fewer raw materials, less energy and less waste
  • To improve accuracy, power and control over existing technologies
  • To achieve fast materials processing with processing speeds 2-5 m2/min, representing a significant increase on current laser techniques
  • To increase achievable precision
  • To minimize heat impact on sensitive materials
  • To increase productivity
  • To increase achievable flexibility and product customization
  • Significantly reduce processing costs.

    Prometheus' project will bridge the existing gap between niche and mainstream applications for high power ultra-short pulse laser surface processing. This advanced technology enables the production of materials with advanced properties such as non-stick, low wear/friction, oleophobic or hydrophobic, but through this unique project will deliver a broad range of surface functionalities onto metals, polymers and ceramics by way of high throughput, high spatial resolution Direct Laser Interference Patterning (DLIP) surface processing. It is expected to deliver unprecedented surface texturing speeds of up to 5 m2/min and enable high resolution features down to 1 μm to be produced with minimal heat impact on work pieces. This ambitious project represents a pan-European EU consortium of world leading organizations, from industrial and research partners to four manufacturers – Maier, Johnson and Johnson, Fiat Chrysler Automobile group and Arcelik – that will be able to assess the project's outputs against current industrial processes. Wrapping up the thee-year project, and through breakthrough developments in laser sources, optics, process setup, control and monitoring, the consortium will deliver an integrated laser processing demonstrator system to showcase its capabilities according to the established goals.  

    Beyond the expected improvement on accuracy, the Prometheus project qualitative objectives include better resources utilization from raw materials to energy and waste. It is also expected a quantum leap on the speed of materials' processing, as mentioned, by reaching 2-5 m2/min, while also minimizing heat impact on sensitive materials. The project aims to achieve improved flexibility and allow for a simpler product customization – all of this at a fraction of existing solutions' cost. The case studies being developed include a dishwasher, a tumble dryer, a cylinder piston liner, and high strength aluminium pressing for automotive. 

    The unique ability of this technology to deliver precise periodic arrays of surface features at an unprecedented processing rate will contribute to its entrance into mainstream manufacturing processes, from its current usage in niche ultra-high value applications. The DLIP (Direct Laser Interference Patterning) technology enables the full utilisation of the high-power laser systems delivering profound productivity gains versus current technologies. Also, by being digital by default, the system enables rapid reconfiguration to deliver customised surface functionalities and patterns on a component by component basis. 

    Keeping Europe at the core of innovation and environmental leadership 

    This unique project will bring to light a high potential high power ultra-short pulse laser processing system. Prometheus will address some of the key European 2020 societal challenges, both by ensuring that European companies and research organizations stay at the leading edge of the new manufacturing technologies and by creating new jobs opportunities. At the same time, the project will minimize environmental impacts.  

    CRF main activity is focused on the applicability of PROMETHEUS technology on two automotive cases study: engine liner and tool die for hot forming process for aluminum metal parts.

    PROMETHEUS laser texture could enhance on a cylinder liner the honing pattern to improve the overall piston lubricant reducing the fuel consumption and the liner wear, while on tool die for hot forming process could enable the aluminum lubrication at high temperature reducing the overall amount of lubricant needed, with an improvement on the final surface quality and subsequent processes (welding and coating).

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