By Geoff Giordano

The Laser Institute of America has unveiled an expanded educational track for its second annual Lasers for Manufacturing Event, the highly successful exhibit launched to address a unique and pressing need for the North American industry.

LME 2012 will again provide attendees with vital guidance on how to create effective and efficient laser-based production systems to increase profitability in a broad range of applications, predominantly aerospace, automotive and medical.

Four new courses addressing the fundamentals of laser additive manufacturing, cutting, drilling and marking have been added, as well as a pair of two-hour tutorials addressing welding and joining and ultrafast laser processes.

Your Source for Answers
LME, being held once again in proximity to thousands of automakers and laser job shops, is geared to be one-stop shopping for those either seeking to refine current laser systems and applications or assessing potential new ways to employ photonics in production. The educational program will emphasize the rudiments of understanding the main types of lasers used for manufacturing, how to justify the investment and even maintaining laser safety.

In addition, the new two-day Laser Welding & Joining Workshop, chaired by Prof. Eckhard Beyer of Fraunhofer IWS, will run concurrently with LME on Oct. 23-24 in Schaumburg, IL. “As many laser manufacturers and system builders are engaged in the workshop, this would be an ideal opportunity to get application-related questions answered and get new ideas on how to use lasers,” Beyer noted. “We are going to unite many people from the laser community who were and are shaping the way the world of lasers is today. This will make it possible to address lasers from basics to high-end applications.”

The Welding & Joining Workshop will feature 18 presentations, spread out to allow ample time for attendees to interact directly with OEMs in the exhibit hall.

“The workshop will start with short courses presented by industrial research experts to give a sound overview of laser basics and current developments. End users with long standing experience will present their solutions to the typical challenges of laser applications.”

Some of those applications will include powertrain welding, remote welding, hybrid welding and “micro” applications, he noted. Such applications are being refined constantly as lasers continue to evolve.

“We still see a big impact of the tremendous rise in beam quality and energy efficiency,” Beyer says. “Here the application fields are expanded in many ways: ultra-low distortions or the realization of new mixed-material joints like copper-aluminum using precisely shaped weld pools. Also, remote-beam applications are now standard; that was a field restricted to expensive high-brightness lasers just a few years ago. Furthermore, laser size reduction is a key development; many lasers are now so small that machine integration is much simpler and can be done in a way not possible before.”

Additional Education Opportunities
Although slated as a tutorial this year, the program on ultrafast lasers could grow into another two-day workshop next year. For the inaugural session, LIA President Prof. Reinhart Poprawe of Fraunhofer ILT says the educational track will feature technical examples, a survey of Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 1-9 materials and an overview of markets and materials. He says the session will be particularly geared to those involved with optical systems and scanning technologies, as well as users of precision machining applications with accuracy in the range of 10 microns and below.

“The development of ultrafast lasers with pulse durations of some 100 femtoseconds to 10 picoseconds on an industrial scale with powers up to the kilowatt class, has led to a new level of laser processing with ultimate processing quality,” Prof. Poprawe noted. “Starting with physical basics on ultrashort pulse interaction phenomena, the tutorial will give a survey on different applications from electronics, energy topics and tooling technology to large area processing for tribology optimization and surface functionalization.”

The tutorial is particularly suited for engineers and scientists from machine suppliers and end users, Poprawe said. And “manufacturers of ultrafast lasers and optical systems (scanning technologies) will learn about the requirements on system technology with respect to laser parameters and processing parameters.”

LIA is showing once again it is in the forefront of advocating cutting-edge laser technology, as “ultrashort pulsed lasers are heading to the edge of mass industrialization and will undergo similar growth rates like other lasers in the past,” Poprawe asserted.

LME 2012 will again feature the highly popular Laser Technology Showcase, a stage at the front of the exhibit hall that will be used for keynote educational presentations and shorter informational addresses by many companies in attendance. The showcase format helped foster interaction between attendees seeking solutions and a wide array of industry leaders able to lend their expertise in person.

For more information on LIA’s Lasers for Manufacturing Event (LME), visit www.laserevent.org or call 1.800.34.LASER.