Laser Surface Engineering for Enhanced Functional Performance
Surface engineering for enhanced performance and / or added surface functionality is receiving an ever-increasing attention from a wide range of industries and is currently a hot topic for academic and industrial research. According to a recent government report by the Surface Engineering and Advanced Coating (SEAC) Special Interest Group, the SEAC industry in 2010 was worth an estimated £11.2 bn in the UK only, with the products affected by SEAC worth over £140bn. This drives the need for a more flexible, controlled and precise engineering approach where laser surface processing / texturing is a viable option. The overall aim of the project is to demonstrate laser surface engineering for added functionality in real-life applications, in order to ultimately facilitate embedding surface engineering into the manufacturing design stage.
The specific objectives relate to:
1) Implementation of modelling tools to support selection of the processing parameters that lead to the targeted surface patterning / modification.
2) Identification of appropriate laser parameters, through process optimisation and design of experiments, to achieve desired pattern / surface functionality (specific application TBC).
3) Identification and implementation of “in-process” surface characterisation tools and techniques to support the texturing process.
4) Evaluation of the surface / subsurface integrity of the processed components to identify any side / undesired thermal effects and provide a better understanding of laser-material interaction.
5) Testing and validation of the identified surface functionality and proposals for upscaling of the technology. Specific applications / demonstrators will focus on anti-bacterial surfaces, as a replacement for specialised coatings / photo-catalysts, for medical devices and self-cleaning surfaces for food production lines.