Determine the limits, if any, of the basic laser marking software, used for programming laser paths used in the Surfi-Sculpt process.
Produce a range of industrially oriented demonstration components using the laser Surfi-Sculpt process.
Determine the scope of laser Surfi-Sculpt capability for non-metallic materials.
Make recommendations for the practical implementation of the process based on the results of the above.
The work will begin on metals to develop an understanding of the range and form of features that are possible using the Surfi-Sculpt technique of laser beam scanning. Particular emphasis will be given to features of small size. Also investigated will be the thermal management of the process and the sequence of beam movement, not only within a feature but also for an array of features, in order to maximise material movement and optimise solidification times. The capability of the laser scanner software will be evaluated in terms of its effectiveness and efficiency of programming the laser beam paths required. In parallel with this work, a selection of features pertinent to industrial applications and possible components will be established, with a view to the production of demonstration parts which show the potential of the process.
Work on non-metals will first involve plastic materials. More fundamental experiments on these materials will need to be undertaken until the process capability reaches the point where the work described for metals above can be repeated. This is due to the minimal amount of laser Surfi-Sculpt investigations conducted on plastics to date. This current work, however, has shown that due to the viscosity of the molten materials involved, the management of heat input to any particular feature will be very important if feature shape is to be well controlled and predictable. This part of the project will also close with the selection and production of industrially relevant demonstration pieces.
In a final part to the project, the possibility of producing laser Surfi-Sculpt features in ceramic materials will be investigated.
Relevant Industry Sectors
Those which include lab-on-chip, micro-fluidics, and tribology applications, the manufacture of heat exchangers, drug delivery systems, biosensors, nozzles, microelectromechanical systems, micro-filters, medical implants and moulds, and the production of decorative and functional surfaces.
Technical and Economic Benefits
A flexible patterning system for metallic and non-metallic materials.
Non-contact surface preparation.
Capability to produce unique features.
Potential for cost savings due to flexibility of the process.