Bavarian laser technology and photonics: technologies for the future

Laser technology has long been an innovation driver for various branches of industry and everyday applications and is expanding this role with a view to areas that will become more important in future, such as additive manufacturing and data transmission. Bavaria is well positioned for the future with its outstanding infrastructure in terms of laser technology.

Laser in additive manufacturing (Source: LPT/NCT)

Laser sounds like the future – and rightly so. Laser technology has not only been directly linked to the technologies of the future since today. We have long been familiar with lasers from printers and barcode readers. They were once the technology of the future. On the other hand, the future is now with holography or data transmission using optical fibres. The same also applies to the promising additives manufacturing industry: a product is manufactured by applying a starting material layer by layer using a three-dimensional computer model. The material binds during the process and everyday objects or components for industry are ready.

Laser technology and additive manufacturing on the advance in Bavaria

What can laser do for 3D printing? Countless different additive manufacturing processes have already been established today. And new ones are constantly being added. Some of them are based on state-of-the-art laser technology, such as laser-sintering and laser beam melting. A material in powder form is applied to a base plate in thin layers. The material is heated by laser to finally obtain the desired shape in the course of cooling. Laser deposition welding is similar in that metal is melted by laser while it is being applied. Complex components can also be produced in this way. This offers undreamt-of potential for industry and research.

It’s therefore not surprising that a lot is going on in terms of laser technology in Bavaria as a location for innovation. This is just as important for today’s applications as for the areas that will be added in the future. Bavaria has not only just become a technological leader in this respect but has been one for decades. An overview of developments in Bavaria.

Additive Fertigung von Bauteilen im blz. (Quelle: K. Fuchs/blz/LPT)

Research institutions, clusters and hubs

The Bayerische Laserzentrum (blz) is an innovative research company that accepts the challenges that modern manufacturing processes pose to the laser beam tool for its customers. Cross-technology expertise: laser material processing and process analysis, additive manufacturing, optical systems and components, laser protection and knowledge transfer.

The Institute for Photonic Technologies (LPT) at the Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg helps to harness the potential of advances in basic physical research for application with its research and development projects. Research areas: additive manufacturing, photonic medical technology, sensor technology, control & real-time systems, simulation & modelling, ultra-short pulse laser technologies.

The Application Center Additive Manufacturing was founded by the Bayerisches Laserzentrum and the Institute for Photonic Technologies in 2018. Interested companies can benefit from the latest scientific research, make contacts, obtain support and test their ideas under ideal conditions in this environment.

The Laser Technology working group at the Phototonic Hub, the consortium of the regional bayern photonics e.V. & Optence e.V. photonics networks is also important. The working group serves participants from different areas of laser technology for exchange and networking. The group’s meetings are held with members from bayern photonics and Optence.

At Munich University of Applied Sciences, the Faculty of Applied Sciences and Mechatronics researches photonics and laser technology. The main focus is on laser processing with ultrashort pulse lasers in thin film systems and laser ablation using time-resolved ultrashort pulse microscopy.

The Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Amberg-Weiden is a nationally and internationally recognised specialist in the field of process development for laser material processing with a focus on functional and functionalised surfaces.

The Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Regensburg has established itself as an important partner for regional and national industry. One of the main areas of research is laser material processing.

The Institute for Machine Tools and Industrial Management (iwb) at the Technical University of Munich is one of the largest production engineering institutes in Germany. The main areas of research include laser material processing and additive manufacturing.

Events

Thanks to the Laser World of Photonics trade fair, Munich becomes the international epicentre of the laser industry every two years – the next time in June 2019. It has been setting standards in terms of size, diversity and relevance since 1973. Today it is the world’s leading trade fair for photonics components, systems and applications Special highlights in 2019 are a special show by the Bayerisches Laserzentrum together with the iwb and LPT as well as a special programme for international start-ups.

LANE in Fürth has established itself as a scientific conference in Bavaria. It brings international experts in the field of photonics research together every two years (next time in 2020). Worldwide trends and developments in photonics will be presented. LANE is organized by the Bayerisches Laserzentrum and the Institute for Photonic Technologies at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.

Last but not least, LEF is another industry meeting place for representatives from business and science. The latest trends and developments in the field of laser micromaterial processing were presented and discussed with regard to their possible applications in a wide range of fields for the 22nd time in Fürth in 2019.

Businesses & start-ups

Innovative technology: gentle cleaning with the Soliton LT-300 cleaning laser

This ecosystem of research and industry, network and infrastructure makes Bavaria an ideal point of contact for SMEs and start-ups from all areas of laser technology.

A few examples:

Other companies can be found in the annually updated "Optical Technologies in Bavaria" brochure from bayern photonics.