EU FP7 Project HALO (High power Adaptable Laser beams for materials prOcessing) Successfully Completes

Ilminster, 23 June 2016  

G&H is pleased to announce the successful completion of the HALO project. The project launched in October 2012. HALO (High power Adaptable Laser beams for materials prOcessing) was a collaborative research project supported by the European Commission through its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and coordinated from G&H’s Torquay facility.

High-speed laser cutting of car body steel at 100 m per min (image courtesy of Fraunhofer ILT)
High-speed laser cutting of car body steel at 100 m per min (image courtesy of Fraunhofer ILT)

HALO has developed technology for the next generation of adaptable materials processing lasers. It has brought together large laser manufacturers with key European component suppliers, academic and research organisations and end users of industrial laser systems. The project has tackled a wide range of laser technologies for processing several important materials, including sheet metal, ceramics and glass. Work has included the simulation of cutting processes, development of new components, experiments with novel laser configurations and the establishment of new processing techniques. The HALO project finished at the end of April 2016.

The key advances include:
  • Novel components for adaptable beams
    • Capillary tapers to generate a ring-shaped pump beam
    • The first reported isolators to maintain radial and azimuthal polarisation
    • Acousto-optic modulator to select laser mode shape
    • In-cavity acousto-optic Q-switch
    • Segmented waveplates to generate tailored polarisation multi-kW beams
    • S-waveplates to generate radial polarisation using nano-gratings
  • Novel 2 µm laser design which can select and combine LG modes
    • 20 W CW output power and Q-switched variant
    • Trials performed demonstrating transparent polymer cutting
  • Meta-models developed for metal, glass and liquid-jet cutting
    • New beam characteristics defined for optimised processes
    • HALO IT tool with convenient GUI for user-friendly application
    • Reduced dross and roughness using standard optics in steel cutting
    • Reduced micro-cracking ps-pulse glass cutting process defined and validated
    • Higher damage threshold nozzle design identified for liquid jet cutting (LJC)
    • Reduced splashing regime for LJC proposed and validated
  • Improved understanding of metal cutting using high-speed videography
    • Data implemented in meta-model with HALO IT tool
  • Improved glass cutting processes with ultra-short pulsed lasers using novel beam shapes and multi-spot beam patterns
    • Solved problem of rear-side damage for selected cutting regimes
    • Reduced micro-cracking and improved cut quality
    • Increased cutting speeds
  • Identified optimized polarization for sheet metal cutting
    • “Shell” pattern polarization distribution calculated and realised experimentally
    • Dross significantly improved and cut edge quality improved
    • Production feed rate doubled setting new state-of-the-art
  • LJC process for sapphire identified
    • Patent applied for on progressive cutting process strategy
    • New state-of-the-art defined for edge quality.

More information on Halo can be found on the project website, or by contacting Bruce Napier or Tom Legg.