Hub of Application Laboratories for Equipment Assessment in Laser Based Manufacturing
The APPOLO project seeks to establish and coordinate connections between the end-users, which have demand on laser technologies for (micro)fabrication, knowledge accumulated in the application laboratories of the research institutes and universities and the laser equipment manufacturers (preferable SMEs) for novel lasers, beam control and guiding, etc. and their integration in order to facilitate faster validation of the process feasibility and adaptation of the equipment for manufacturing conditions, as well as assessment of the dedicated production processes in terms of the process speed, quality and economic issues as well. Core of the consortium consist of laser application laboratories around Europe which are connected into a virtual hub to accumulate knowledge and infrastructure and promote the easy-to-access environment for development and validation of laser-based technologies. All partners selected a few directions for assessment of novel laser technologies: in ultra-short pulse laser scribing for monolithic interconnections in thin film CIGS solar cells: from laser to pilot line; use of the lasers in smart surface texturing for automotive and printing/decoration industries and for 3D flexible electronics.
Implementation of the APPOLO project will help partners from European photonics industry to preserve their competitiveness and penetrate new niches in the global market. The equipment builders for automotive, photovoltaics, electronics and printing industries will benefit from faster integration of innovative technologies which will provide the new-quality consumer products, including low-cost and high-efficiency solar cells, comfortable interior and functionality of cars, smart sensors for environmental monitoring.
The APPOLO project focuses on emerging innovative laser technologies and processes, which need to be customised, tested and validated before being able to compete on the market:
- Customized need service of application labs for trials;
- Tested need experiments at variable conditions;
- Validated need assessment in the close-to-manufacturing environment on reliability and quality of the equipment itself and processes.
The main concept of the proposed project is to exploit this unique combination of the distributed knowledge in academic application labs, equipment producers, system integrators and end users to enable the development of innovative processes, products and machineries for industrial laser material processing applications.
Novel pulsed laser sources with a high beam quality and high average power will be implemented in conjunction with advanced laser beam scanning and process monitoring techniques and validated in CIGS solar cell scribing and surface texturing for moulds in automotive and in diverse micro-structuring applications for printing and surface functionalisation.
The specific objectives for the further development of laser technology are in:
- Validation of novel laser concepts and process approaches for high-quality and speed patterning of CIGS solar cells;
- Novel laser beam scanning solutions for surface micro- and nanotexturing;
- Integration of new laser patterning approaches with intelligent control of laser beam for real 3D flexible electronics.
The project is proposing assessment of novel lasers with integrated functions and scanning systems for industrial applications of the high power ultra-short-pulsed lasers. Anticipated impact can affect several possible application areas: photovoltaics, automotive, printing. Performance of the equipment will be optimized by integration of advanced sensing and monitoring tool for the assessment purposes as well as for increased reliability of the industrial processes.