Saxony develops glass surface restructuring laser process

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A new laser process for structuring large surface areas of float glass has been developed by Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) and Minden, Germany based-company Cerion, which is marketing the process.

In a joint research project, LZH and Cerion have developed a process that uses an infrared CO2 laser operating at 10.6µm to restructure the surface of glass. The laser vaporises material on the surface creating microstructures that alter the surface's properties. Large surfaces can be processed, up to 5.4m² per hour. The process uses a mirror to direct the laser across the glass’ surface and only a small change in the mirror's angle is necessary to cover a large area. This makes the process as fast as it is.

LZH said: ‘Scientists in the technologies for non-metals department’s glass group adapted a technology used for metal processing to fit the needs of glass production.’

Cerion built a prototype and this was used to optimise the process for industrial use. Testing the mechanical characteristics of the lasered glass, such as its bending and stability qualities, was also part of the process’ development. Patents have been applied for and Cerion is offering the technology under the trademark name Cerilas.

The process has already been used for a building in Norderstedt, near Hamburg. Nearly 300m² of insulated glass façade was structured on both sides using the process. The façade was made up of glass panels measuring 2.8m by 0.8m and each weighing 150kg.

The process’ development received financial support from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology through the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations.