Innovation in physics to transform Scottish manufacturing capabilities

Researchers have secured £ 586,000 to develop 3D laser beams that can be shaped to be altered.

The innovation of the National Robotarium, hosted by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh is poised to transform the manufacturing and healthcare technology sectors.

Funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will support research and development of lasers for industrial applications.

Photo from the National Robotarium. Lasers are widely used by industry to produce precise incisions and mold materials into specific shapes.

Research to be undertaken at the National Robotarium will develop laser beams specially designed to meet the exact manufacturing requirements of the products, thereby improving efficiency and precision.

The National Robotarium is supported by £ 21million from the UK government and £ 1.4million from the Scottish government as part of the £ 1.3billion Edinburgh and South region deal East of Scotland, a 15-year investment program jointly funded by governments and regional partners. .

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “This is cutting edge technology in every sense of the word.

“These 3D lasers are intended to unlock unprecedented levels of precision and thereby transform our manufacturing and medical technology industries, strengthening the UK’s global reputation for innovation and attracting jobs and new investment.

Photo from the National Robotarium. The standard shape of the laser beam makes it difficult to adapt to specific manufacturing processes, decreasing efficiency and limiting what can be manufactured.

He continues: “This exciting research is supported both by a UK research and innovation grant of £ 586,000 and our investment of £ 21 million in the National Robotarium through the Edinburgh City Region Deal.

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economics Kate Forbes said: ‘I am very pleased to hear that this cutting edge research will be conducted at the National Robotarium, which is funded through the agreement. across the region of Edinburgh and South East Scotland, and that it will have a direct impact on our major global manufacturing industries.

“These are crucial times for business, trade and investment in Scotland.

“City Region and Growth Deals have a key role to play in our economic recovery from the pandemic as we work for a fairer and more inclusive Scotland.

“Our £ 300million pledge in the Edinburgh and South East Scotland region agreement will enable much needed investments in transport, housing, culture and innovation, as well as development skills of the local population, to help build a future economy that benefits everyone. “

National Robotarium Ultra Lab - Research News Scotland
Photo from the National Robotarium. Lasers are a crucial part of modern manufacturing, with the global laser processing market expected to grow from £ 2.8bn in 2020 to £ 4.1bn by 2025.

The new technique could be exploited to improve the way the holes for sensors and cameras on smartphone screens are drilled and to increase the density of information on semiconductor chips, thus helping to meet the ever increasing demand for more memory in devices.

Medical applications could include cancer surgery, where it is hoped that more precise medical instruments could allow tumor resection without removing surrounding healthy tissue.

As part of an academic partnership, the project’s research on this type of medical application will be supported by Professor David Jayne of the University of Leeds.

Other examples include manufacturing waveguide devices to support telecommunications and the Internet, microscopy, and even astronomical telescopes.

Laser systems - Research News Scotland
This approach to laser manufacturing depends on melting or vaporizing the material, which means that the laser energy must be focused on the right points.

The National Robotarium is a cutting-edge robotics and artificial intelligence research center that will create innovative solutions to global challenges using cutting-edge research, product design and industrial collaboration.

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