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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K030884/1
Title: EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser-based Production Processes
Principal Investigator: Hand, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Shephard, Dr JD Williams, Professor SW Sutcliffe, Professor CJ
Ganguly, Dr S O'Neill, Professor W Thomson, Professor RR
Prangnell, Professor P Baker, Professor HJ Reid, Professor D
Moore, Professor AJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Airbus Group Limited AWE Coherent Scotland Ltd
Compound Semiconductor Tech Global Ltd Fianium Ltd GE Aviation
Gooch & Housego GSI Group Ltd Laser Cladding Technology Ltd (LCT)
M-Solv Ltd Menlo Systems GmbH OpTek Limited
Optoscribe Ltd. PowerPhotonic Ltd Renishaw
Rofin Sinar Rolls-Royce Plc Selex ES
SPI Lasers UK Ltd TWI Ltd
Department: Sch of Engineering and Physical Science
Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2013 Ends: 31 March 2019 Value (£): 5,571,751
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Manufacturing Machine & Plant Optical Devices & Subsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Electronics
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 Feb 2013 EPSRC Centres for Innovative Manufacturing Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
A Centre for Innovative Manufacture in Laser-based Production Processes is proposed. This Centre will exploit the unique capabilities of laser light to develop new laser-based manufacturing processes, at both micro and macro levels, supported by new laser source, process monitoring and system technologies.

The past 25 years has seen industrial lasers replace many 'conventional' tools in diverse areas of manufacture, enabling increased productivity, functionality and quality, where for example laser processing (cut/join/drill/mark) has revolutionised automotive, aerospace and electronics production. However the penetration of laser technology into some areas such as welding and machining has been less than might have been anticipated. But recently there has been a significant 'step change-opportunity' to take laser-based processing to a new level of industrial impact, brought about by major advances in laser technology in two key areas:

(i) A new generation of ultra-high quality and reliability lasers based around solid state technology (laser diode and optical fibre) has evolved from developments in the telecoms sector. These lasers are leading to systems with very high levels of spatial and temporal controllability. This control, combined with advanced in-process measurement techniques, is revolutionising the science and understanding of laser material interactions. The result of this is that major improvements are being made in existing laser based processes and that new revolutionary processes are becoming viable, e.g. joining of dissimilar materials.

(ii) A new generation of high average power laser technologies is becoming available, offering controllable trains of ultrashort (picosecond and femtosecond) pulses, with wavelengths selectable across the optical spectrum, from the infrared through to the ultra-violet. Such technology opens the door to a whole range of new laser-based production processes, where thermal effects no longer dominate, and which may replace less efficient 'conventional' processes in some current major production applications.

These new developments are being rapidly exploited in other high-value manufacturing based economies such as Germany and the US. We argue that for the UK industry to take maximum advantage of these major advances in both laser material processing and machine technology there is an urgent requirement for an EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser-based Production Processes. This will be achieved by bringing together a multi-disciplinary team of leading UK researchers and key industry partners with the goal of exploiting 'tailored laser light'.

Together with our industrial partners, we have identified 2 key research themes. Theme A focuses on Laser Precision Structuring, i.e. micro-machining processes, whilst Theme B is focused on joining and additive processes. Spanning these themes are the laser based manufacturing research challenges which fall into categories of Laser Based Production Process Research and Laser Based Machine Technologies, underpinned by monitoring and control together with material science. Research will extend from the basic science of material behaviour modelling and laser-material interaction processes to manufacturing feasibility studies with industry.

The Centre will also assume an important national role. The Centre Outreach programme will aim to catalyse and drive the growth of a more effective and coherent UK LIM community as a strong industry/academia partnership able to represent itself effectively to influence UK/EU policy and investment strategy, to promote research excellence, and growth in industrial take-up of laser-based technology, expand UK national knowledge transfer and marketing events and improve the coordination and quality of education/training provision.
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Organisation Website: http://www.hw.ac.uk