Fast beam shaping for advanced laser manufacturing

Lead Research Organisation: University of the West of Scotland
Department Name: School of Engineering


This project is about building a cost-effective deformable mirror system suitable to incorporate into advanced laser manufacturing systems. Laser systems are now used or proposed for machining, polishing, and additive layer manufacture. Directing and shaping a laser beam under computer control allows multiple laser tools to be generated and enables highly complex structures to be manufactured, suitable for prototyping, low volume high value manufacture, and one-off components such as medical implants. Faster, more accurate, and cheaper adaptive optic components will increase the take-up in industry of these advanced laser manufacturing techniques.

The key aspects of the fast beam shaping technology are (i) the mirror design, which is adaptable to miniaturisation and integration with sensing and drive electronics, and (ii) the technique of "actuator extension sensing" which reduces the effect of piezoelectric hysteresis enabling faster and more accurate mirror control. The development of the deformable mirror with extension sensing offers the potential for continuously-variable manipulation of the beam profile and spot size of a laser. For example in additive layer manufacturing, in which a laser beam is scanned under computer control to create a component by melting metal powder, it will be possible to compensate for off-axis distortions during scanning across the metal powder bed, or to use a larger or smaller spot for coarse or fine detail of the component's structure.

The aim in this project is to show the effectiveness and commercial value of the deformable mirror with extension sensing control. We will show the mirror working under control in the laboratory in a laser manufacturing application, namely additive layer manufacture. We will investigate in depth the market opportunity in advanced laser manufacturing, route to market for the technology, and the requirements for further investment.


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Description It was found that the deformable mirror could be controlled to the required shape, as input from the controller.
Exploitation Route We are exploring how the findings can be used in the field of additive manufacturing.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description Implementation of new control strategy for Piezo Actuator Drive (with Noliac, Denmark)
Amount £24,968 (GBP)
Organisation The Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2014 
End 05/2015