Vector Photonics leads the international, £1.5m BLOODLINE consortium project to develop lasers for next-generation, metal printers.

Vector Photonics is leading the BLOODLINE project; an Innovate UK funded, international consortium project developing PCSEL-based chips for 3D metal laser printing. This is a market set to quadruple to $10bn by 2025*.

Vector Photonics is leading the £1.5m project and is joined by a renowned Japanese, semiconductor, epitaxy, manufacturer and the UK’s Compound Semiconductor Applications (CSA) Catapult, which will undertake chip reliability testing. A leading industrial equipment manufacturer in Japan, will provide product assessment and, ultimately, a route to market, although the chips produced will be suitable for any printer manufacturer.

Dr. Richard Taylor, CTO at Vector Photonics, said, “3D metal laser printers hold metal powder in a ‘powder bed’ at just below melting point. Currently, CO2 or fibre lasers, directed by mirrors, scan over the surface of the powder, melting the metal powder to the layer below, in what is termed Selective Laser Melting (SLM).

“Vector Photonics’ PCSEL technology will revolutionise the SLM process. PCSELs offer a unique combination of increased laser power, by scaling up the PCSEL arrays; improved reliability, by removing the mirrors and offering and entirely solid-state solution; and greater manufacturing efficiency – the result of higher resolution printing with less finishing overheads and faster printing speeds.
“We believe that PCSELs will enable an entirely new class of next generation, metal printers and contribute to even greater market growth.”

Project BLOODLINE’s full name is Bright Laser diOdes fOr aDvance metaL addItive maNufacturing systEms.
*SmarTech Analysis: Additive Manufacturing with Metal Powders, 2019.

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