Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU, Liverpool, U.K.) reported on Nov. 2 that it has equipped its Photonics in Engineering (PiE) research laboratory with a next-generation, high-power Ytterbium Fiber laser from JK Lasers (Rugby, U.K.).
The PiE group, based in the university's General Engineering Research Institute (GERI), will now have four industrial lasers from JK Lasers, all suited for research into welding, cutting, drilling and micro-machining applications — including machining of composites.
The photonics in the Engineering group, led by Dr. Martin Sharp, are using JK Lasers' systems in a variety of applications — projects ranging from laser micromachining of polymeric material for the biomedical sector to macro laser processing of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) for aerospace and automotive applications.
Dr. Paul French, another founding member of the PiE group, and lead researcher on composites, says, "We recognized that if lasers are going to be part of the aerospace industry in the future we must find successful processing parameters for CFRP."
PiE has procured its own JK400FL system to carry on the composites work, following successful processing trials using a JK200FL, a 200W fiber laser from JK Lasers. There are a number of research groups around the world who are investigating laser processing of CFRP using mainly UV laser systems or ultrashort picosecond or femtosecond lasers.
The work at PiE is novel in that it is investigating the processing of CFRP materials using a laser source that produces a continuous or modulated laser beam and whose capital cost is a fraction of the more expensive ultrashort pulse lasers.
French reports, "A number of aerospace companies are excited by the results so far and all with a concerted effort I am confident we can produce the results that will allow the aerospace and automotive sector to implement the technology on the shop floor. This could be a very important market for fiber laser sales in the future."