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Special exhibitions highlight the importance of photonics

14th May 2015
Nat Bowers

The automotive industry invests more into research and development than most others and its innovations are increasingly based on photonics. Light is also the central tool in 3D printing, which is on the cusp of industrial production. For these reasons, the two areas of innovation are being given their own special exhibitions at the LASER World of PHOTONICS, 22nd to 25th June in Munich.

In keeping with the "International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies" theme, the trade fair will demonstrate just how closely innovation in industrial processes is associated with the intelligent use of light nowadays. Three special concurrent shows will focus attention on the role of lasers in manufacturing (Photons in Production "Next Generation"), on photonics as an enabling technology in automotive manufacturing (Photonics Applications in the Automotive Sector) and on additive manufacturing techniques (3D Printing - Additive Manufacturing).

The Photonics Applications in the Automotive Sector special exhibition in Hall A3 will showcase the most diverse application areas and latest application scenarios live, in a practical setting. One highlight that will draw a crowd is the sporty BMW i8 plug-in hybrid, the first vehicle to feature the all-new laser light technology. TRUMPF will demonstrate the entire range of laser applications in car factories - from laser welds in body manufacturing via laser machining of high-strength steels to the laser marking of the speedometers and control buttons.

The potential of photonics in automotive engineering extends beyond manufacturing. For example, Polytec will be presenting optical systems for measuring vibrations and dynamics in the powertrain, in the vehicle interior or on the chassis. Vibrometers are also used in the electro-mobility arena. Newport Spectra-Physics will be showcasing infrared optics that assist motorists when driving at night. Also, together with partner Materialise, it will be presenting prototypes of door panels and dashboards manufactured using stereo lithography. UV lasers from Spectra-Physics are used in the rapid prototyping process to harden plastics.

The special show will also put the plastic welding process in automotive engineering into perspective using an innovative industrial laser system from LIMO Lissotschenko Mikrooptik.

The 3D Printing - Additive Manufacturing special exhibition reflects the successful collaboration between research institutes, system manufacturers and users. System manufacturer Concept Laser has partnered with the Augsburg-based user centre of the Institute for Machine Tools and Industrial Management (iwb) of the TU Munich. The iwb researchers are working with a Concept Laser system and will be showcasing components that have been made with it, such as lightweight honeycomb structures with snap connections used in making aircraft wings. The researchers will also be demonstrating an innovative thermographic process monitoring system for the laser melting process.

The Bavarian Laser Center and special “Additive Manufacturing' Research Center 814 of the University of Erlangen-Nuremburg will be exhibiting materials, manufacturing processes and component design for additive manufacturing. Selective laser melting of plastics, electron beam melting of metals and the construction of multi-material components will be highlighted.

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