Innovative high-speed processes using laser to increase the competitiveness of regional SMEs in production technology

The relevance of laser beams as a modern tool is growing continuously. Cutting metals, welding plastic materials or labelling packaging – more and more often laser technology is used for these kind of tasks. However, a controlled motion between laser beam and workpiece has to be ensured in order to correctly channel the impact of the laser. Due to a rapid increase of the output, the laser beam can be moved over the component at an increasing speed. This leads to higher productivity and profitability. Meanwhile, however, the technological development of laser sources has reached a point at which established technologies often make it difficult to move the laser beam with adequate performance and speed in order to exploit the full potential of the laser technology. In the future this beginning limitation will hinder innovative development processes across all industries and will – according to research of the laser center of the university of applied science of Münster (LFM) – also be relevant for the EUREGIO region to an extent that must not be underestimated. To overcome the limitation caused by the beam guidance, existing technologies cannot be pursued any longer. Only a leap in innovation with regard to entirely new approaches to beam guidance will achieve a sustainable solution. The associated development is complex and is currently pursued only by financially strong major industries for their specific applications. If regionally specific production aspects of the local SMEs were involved in the now beginning development processes for new beam guidance and processing methods, companies in the Euregio-region could receive faster and more focused support during the upcoming change in technology. It is the goal of the proposed project to investigate whether high-speed processes can be applied to the SMEs‘ “classic” laser material processing and at what cost and to what extent this is possible.