Prometheus Project Impact

S trengthening industrial manufacturing based on ultra-short pulse lasers and extending its field of applications by simultaneous improvement of precision and productivity; significant contribution to the digitization of European industry.

The PROMETHEUS case studies have been chosen to challenge the technology application into a range of price sensitive industrial sectors. Based on our current experiences and knowledge base, we have projected the processing rates using a 1.5kW ns laser. The target processing speeds outlined within PROMETHEUS are up to 5m2/ min using the DLIP process with a 1.5 kW laser source. This equates to 833 cm2 /sec. The overall target cost of the PRIMA integrated PROMETHEUS system is €800k, inclusive of the control system,1.5kW ns laser, fiber and DLIP optics (inclusive of the diffractive optic elements). Given the high efficiency of these lasers, the capex cost dominates the OPEX costs per minute. Therefore, we have estimated the cost of processing based entirely on the depreciated capital cost, with a 7 year utilisation, single shift 38 hour working week. Whilst in reality there will be some downtime during processing and additional cost for component manipulation, these will be calculated during the project. Based on these calculations, the cost per minute equates to €0.83 / minute.

PROMETHEUS focusses upon the industrial application of ultra-short pulse lasers for manufacturing. The project focusses on the development of high power ultra-short pulse laser technologies in the range of 10 ns – 700 ps and will be applicable to future high-power developments in shorted pulse systems. The DLIP technology is uniquely suited to deliver high precision (with features in the range of 1μm) and high productivity (with processing speeds up to 5m2 / min) opening up new potential industrial uses. The digital application of the DLIP technology will enable manufacturers to select customisable functionalities, surface finishing effects and bespoke personalisation within high speed manufacturing processes. In Particular, PROMETHEUS significantly extends the field of applications of Ultra short pulse laser processing by enabling simultaneous 3D and large area texturing. The exceptionally high processing rate enables unequalled cost-effective processing delivering novel technology to more price sensitive industrial sectors such as the automotive, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), white goods and consumer durables. For example, for the end user case studies outlined above, it was estimated the effective cost of laser processing.

Substantial contribution to digital photonic production with increased productivity, flexibility and customized products ("first time right") at significantly reduced costs.
The unique characteristics of the PROMETHEUS technology, including the ability to deliver precise periodic arrays of surface features at an unprecedented processing rate will deliver a substantial contribution to digital photonic processing, enabling it to be applied within a broad range of mainstream manufacturing processes rather than for niche ultra-high value applications. The PROMETHEUS approach is flexible to the processed material, capable of ablating and texturing polymers, metals and ceramics. In addition, the technology is capable of texturing 3D complex geometries. The digital nature of the PROMETHEUS system enables rapid reconfiguration to deliver customised surface functionalities and patterns on a component by component basis. The embedded control systems will impart quality control as part of the process, enabling errors to be corrected quickly and to generate right first-time manufacturing platforms

European Added Value - Environmental and Societal Impacts

The PROMETHEUS project supports the European 2020 grand societal challenges. Creating a high potential high power ultra-short pulse laser processing technology with unprecedented processing speeds with in-line characterisation diffractographic / scatterometric inspection system and associated control systems will contribute specifically to at least two out of five of the grand challenges, namely;

  • Supporting employment – 75% of 20-64 years old to be employed: based on expected revenues, >1000 jobs will be created across the consortium will be mainly 20-64-year olds;
  • Increasing investment in innovation – 3% of the EU’s GDP: new approaches to surface engineering through ultra-short pulse laser processing will generate direct increased in R&D spending, both in photonic component development necessary to control the increased power densities and in widespread application development; In addition, the project supports the general objectives of the Factories of the Future PPP, including;
  • Increase EU industrial competitiveness and sustainability in a global world through R & D activities for the timely development of new knowledge-based production technologies and systems:
  • promote EU 2020 targets of a smart, green and inclusive economy:
  • support EU industrial policy targets (EC industrial policy communication October 2012)
  • underpin EU trade and investment policy:
  • EU to remain the leading trade region in the world, keeping the share of EU trade in goods between 15–20%.

PROMETHEUS will achieve several environmental and societal Impacts both within the manufacturing sector and wider. Specifically:

  • Replacement of chemical etching processes resulting in reduced harmful chemical usage in accordance with REACH legislation
  • High-throughput efficient material removal at up to 5m2/minute
  • PROMETHEUS ultra-short pulse technology can be used on a range of diverse materials – metals/ polymers/ceramics and cermets
  • Improved wear properties on mould tools will reduce the need for lubricants and existing lubricant removal washing processes and increase the lifetime of tools overall
  • The specific application of PROMETHEUS into the end user case studies will deliver the following environmental