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ZAL: Neues Laserverfahren befeuert Spitzenforschung © Zentrum für Angewandte Luftfahrtforschung (ZAL)

ZAL: New laser process boosting cutting-edge research

Laser Shock Peening Technology facilitates new treatment of material surfaces

A new high-performance laser process has been put into operation in the presence of Dr. Peter Tschentscher, Mayor of Hamburg. ZAL is one of the most important international innovation centres in the aviation industry. During the laser shock peening process for surface treatment, a high-power light pulse is directed onto a film behind a water film that runs over the material to be treated. At the point of impact, the laser beam generates high-pressure plasma, the energy of which discharges explosively. The explosion wave pushes the material into the corresponding position and thus hardens its structure.

Largest single investment in ZAL history

This cutting edge technology is used to treat particularly stressed structural parts and is significantly more efficient and environment-friendly than conventional shot peening processes. In aviation, for instance, the use of laser shock peening can be used to reinforce door or cockpit window frames. The investment of EUR 2.6 million means, the laser shock peening facility is the largest single investment in the history of ZAL. The facility is well on course to becoming the international leader in this field of research with its high-end infrastructure.

Airbus – main user

Commenting on the importance of cutting-edge technology, Roland Gerhards, ZAL Managing Director, said: “With the inauguration of the ‘Laser Shock Peening Technology’, top research in Hamburg has reached a new level – also in international visibility.” Tschentscher added: “The success of ZAL contributes to further strengthening Hamburg’s reputation in the field of applied research and aviation”. The installation in the ZAL TechCenter means laser shock peening is now widely applicable in Europe for the first time. Airbus will be the main user of the new facility and is renting 60 per cent of the infrastructure. ZAL GmbH and the U.S. manufacturer LSP Technologies will jointly market the remaining capacities. They will be offered to research partners – not only from civil aviation – as test infrastructure in future.

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