Laser Structuring

Laser Structuring is a process for functionalizing component surfaces. With such functionalization, the optical, mechanical, haptic and biological properties of the component are changed according to its desired use.

Changed component properties through surface functionalization

The fields of application are many and varied. For example, plastic surfaces in automobiles have better non-slip qualities and appear to be of higher quality if they are provided with microstructures. In the case of engine components, the right surface treatment reduces friction and, thus, air resistance. Water-repellent properties can be found today on coatings as well as on textiles. For metallic components, such as instruments in medical technology, this »lotus effect« is achieved by introducing a periodic structure using (ultra-)short pulse lasers. And the opposite effect can also be achieved by micro- and nanostructures in the surface: Hydrophilic surfaces, such as those found in vessels or certain optics, literally suck in water and transport the liquid in the desired direction.

Extensive system technology for laser structuring

At Fraunhofer IPT, we are able to reproduce micro- and nanostructures even on complexly shaped surfaces of metal, glass and plastic components. For the production of the structures we use conventional 5-axis systems in which we integrate (ultra-)short pulse lasers.

Our MIRA robot system is used for particularly large objects. With MIRA we can produce structures of the highest quality even for very large and complex components. In order to compensate for system-related inaccuracies of the robot, we have developed an intelligent Laser Structuring head that automatically detects and independently corrects position deviations.

Our services at a glance

  • Development of function-oriented nano- and microstructures
  • Surface structuring of complex shaped components
  • Individual consultation on the use of Laser Structuring
  • Feasibility and profitability studies
  • Adaptation of the process to existing production environments
  • Prototype production of surface structures

Areas of application

Tribology

We specifically increase or minimize tribological stress by means of microstructures, which we introduce onto component surfaces using a laser.

Haptics

The microstructure of a surface determines how it feels. We use laser structuring to modify surfaces to achieve the desired haptic properties.

Biomedicine

By introducing micro- and nanostructures onto material surfaces, we influence the behavior of cells and bacteria: Cell growth is prevented or promoted depending on the structure, and we can even use them to control the differentiation of stem cells.

Wettability and fluid
dynamics

Micro- and nanostructures can be used to change the wetting properties of surfaces and create hydrophilic and hydrophobic areas. In addition, the smallest capillary structures ensure a directed, passive liquid transport.

Design

Through the use of laser structuring we influence the aesthetic and visual properties of component surfaces. Thanks to this process, we can precisely manufacture almost any design pattern.

Machining of Diamonds

Diamonds are generally too hard for conventional machining techniques. Laser structuring converts diamonds into graphite, allowing far higher rates of ablation.