MultiFlex is a three-year European project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme and was launched beginning of 2019. This project involves 6 partners, including Amplitude, and will end in 2021. Its main objective is to develop a high-power ultrafast laser with 1kW average power and a flexible multibeam approach to deliver the power efficiently to the workpiece. The project aims at reaching a productivity 100 times higher by using 20 times higher laser power and faster control system than conventional processes. Using multibeam process is an effective solution to leverage high power femtosecond technology to more and more industrial applications.
“Joining this project was a natural move for us as we deem necessary to always be pushing and improving our technology. Indeed, as the leader of the ultrafast laser world, it is by taking part in such technological adventures that we can therefore always answer our clients’ needs with the best and most cutting-edge products.” Says Clemens Hönninger, Vice President, Research & Development at Amplitude.
Power and Efficiency from Amplitude
Amplitude’s objective in Multiflex is to develop an innovative kW average power femtosecond laser with a precise and free-triggerable pulse control option called FemtoTrig®.
What matters most in this project is the reduction of the overall process time, and FemtoTrig® option plays a key role in answering this need.
Indeed, thanks to this proprietary technique, the laser can be free triggered while maintaining constant pulse energy at the laser output. In layman’s terms, it allows the user to change the time interval between two pulses without changing the pulse energy, and it considerably reduces the process time when the laser is used to machine objects with complex shapes. As Johannes-Thomas Finger, project coordinator at Fraunhofer ILT, states:
“The pulse on demand feature is important to really achieve high productivity instead of only using a laser with more and more power. To have 1 kW and using them is one thing, but the risk is to lose productivity with too many dead times during the process. As we will have an array of beams, the galvanometer scanner will mark only quite short lines to fill the space between all the beamlets. If we want to achieve best precision without pulse on demand, we could need to use “Sky-Writing” to mark without acceleration and deceleration effects. However, this can dramatically increase the overall process time. Therefore, we need the pulse on demand feature [FemtoTrig® ] to not only use high average power but to keep the duty cycle during our process high.”
Our main challenges in the project are the power scaling to the kilowatt level, as well as transferring our flexible FemtoTrig® control to such high-power lasers. FemtoTrig® is currently implemented in our 100W industrial lasers. A significant reduction in process time has been obtained. In terms of high-power laser development, we have currently boosted the amplifier close to the kW level. More precision in the coming weeks !