A novel project using laser technology to improve existing glass-cutting techniques is set to revolutionise glass processing capabilities across the industry.
Independent research and development, consultancy and testing facility, Glass Technology Services Ltd (GTS) is working with the University of Leeds and drawing upon the success of a number of photonics and laser research projects to develop the new technology in the “Bright Slice” project, funded by a £93K grant from the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board.
Having started in April, the year-long project will take advantage of GTS’s new laser laboratory facility and use bench-top laser systems to investigate and demonstrate the feasibility of this novel technique, whilst developing a business case to justify further investment to turn the technology into a commercial system. Robert Ireson, Innovation Team Leader at GTS, comments:
“We anticipate the technique will offer several benefits over existing systems - including improved safety, increased speed and minimal ongoing maintenance. The capability to cut novel shapes and holes, as well as the option to engrave markings or logos on glass products, also presents considerable market potential.
“If successful, it is hoped that the technology could translate from flat glass, to be used in other sectors of the glass industry - such as in the manufacture of glass tableware, optical components and for specialist processing.”
“Bright Slice utilises non-contact laser technology to emit radiation at specific absorption bands within the glass to generate controlled fracture of the glass. Designed to deliver a cleaner, safer and more cost-effective process, the new technology is targeting an investment payback of less than two years.
“Lasers have been used for cutting and processing glass in a number of areas for many years, but there are fundamental problems in terms of the speed and power at which they operate. The field of laser technology is advancing all the time and we have identified opportunities that will allow these barriers to be overcome and potentially revolutionise the process of cutting glass.
“Our partnership with the University of Leeds allows us to exploit these opportunities through their laser expertise combined with GTS’s deep understanding of glass science & technology. We are very excited about the possible applications of the technology - allowing glass, especially flat glass, to be processed in ways that have previously been impossible.”
GTS provides analysis, consultancy, testing and research and development support to all parts of the glass supply chain – from raw materials to the end consumer. GTS prides itself on its confidentiality and independence and is accredited to ISO:9001, 14001 and 17025 standards.