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Activity

Novel Laser Applications at Laser Taiwan 2017

Several of ITRI’s R&D successes were displayed at Laser Taiwan 2017. One of the remarkable highlights was its eco-friendly labels on the surface of fruits marked by its fiber engraving laser, and another was the remote cutting system co-developed with IPG Photonics. The high power fiber laser cuts metal patterns at a highly competitive speed while maintaining excellent quality, thereby playing a key role of guiding the industry to the next generation of smart manufacturing.

fiber optic laser engraving technology

Marking a “Fu” (meaning FORTUNE) character on a longan fruit with ITRI’s fiber optic laser engraving technology.

Conventionally, fruit labeling uses printed stickers indicating the trademark, origin or even food safety information. However, stickers may often either fall off easily or be difficult to peel off, while they also raise environmental concerns. This year, ITRI addressed this issue using its 50 W nanosecond fiber laser to mark out labels on various fruits like longan, apples, and oranges. Applications are expected to extend to other foods. Information marked on physical surfaces could contain distinctive trademarks or even detailed product descriptions. ITRI Vice President Dr. Jia-Ruey Duann stressed that the laser engraving is totally damage-free to foods processed; in the future, this laser engraving technology can be used in environmentally friendly packaging while being tougher against counterfeiting compared to conventional label stickers. “Furthermore, this breakthrough technology is expected to reduce the use of plastics and cut back on CO2 emissions,” he added. To date, the fiber engraving laser has been demonstrated to print eco-friendly labels on longan, sweet potato and other fruits with lower water content such as banana and kiwi.

ITRI exhibited its laser remote cutting technology with IPG Photonics’ 4 kW laser system.

ITRI exhibited its laser remote cutting technology with IPG Photonics’ 4 kW laser system.

The laser remote cutting system exhibited combines a 4 kW laser from IPG Photonics with technology developed by ITRI itself. It features a scanner with high thermal dissipation efficiency, which according to simulation analysis can promptly cut out irregular shapes up to a 100 x 100 mm size on metal sheets with a high power laser source.

Dr. Ji-Bin Horng, Deputy General Director of Laser and Additive Manufacturing Technology Center, pointed out that in the past, laser cutting of irregular shapes was carried out in a line that was anchored from specific points. The new laser remote cutting system, however, can significantly reduce process time and alleviate the need for high pressure gases, consequently cutting down on processing costs. ITRI is continually working on developing new laser technologies that inspire innovative applications, aiming to lead the Taiwan industry through challenges ahead and build a long-term competitive edge.