Industry can now use a new laser process for structuring large surface
areas of float glass. This technology was developed by the Laser
Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and Cerion GmbH and is characterized by
high quality, short processing time and flexibility in design.
The first successful use of this new process can be seen in
Norderstedt, near Hamburg, Germany. Nearly 300 m² of the insulated
glass façade of a new building were structured on both sides
using laser technology. Each glass panel measures 2.8 m by 0.8 m, and
weighs approximately 150 kg.
Complex surface decors or large area surface structuring on
architectural glass are usually time-consuming and often require
processes that are health endangering. For example, wet chemical
etching uses hydrofluoric acid, which is highly poisonous.
Sandblasting, depending on the degree of frosting or matting required,
is time consuming, as several process steps are necessary. For both
processes, chemical or sandblasting, the one-use masking is necessary,
and a final cleaning step is also needed.
In a joint research project, LZH and Cerion have developed an
industrial glass processing with a more economical and much more
flexible method. A CO2 laser using infrared laser radiation (10.6
µm wavelength) is used to structure the glass. The focused beam
can achieve high local intensities. and vaporizes the material on the
glass surface, pinpoint for pinpoint, thus creating periodic
At the LZH, scientists in the “Glass Group” (Technologies
for Non-metals Department) adapted a technology used for metal
processing to fit the needs of glass production. Any shape or form can
be transferred to the glass surface using scanner technology for
guiding laser beam. This makes it possible to structure glass surfaces
at an extremely high speed, since only a small change in the scanner
mirror angle is necessary to cover a large distance. Large surfaces can
be processed at up to 5.4 square meters per hour with resolutions of
150 dpi. The frosting or matting level can be adjusted in process from
transparent to opaque.
Testing of the mechanical characteristics of the lasered glass, such as
bending and impulse stability was also part of the process development,
especially concerning the requirements placed on static glass
components in buildings. Cerion GmbH in Minden, Germany, built a
prototype based on the detailed parameter studies carried out by the
LZH, and this prototype was used to optimize the process for industrial
use. Patents for the system technology have been applied for, and the
Cerion GmbH is offering this technology to their international clients
under the trademark name of CERILAS. The process is being continually
improved and optimized for other application areas, for example
non-slip glass surfaces, a process that has already been patented by
Laser structuring is highly flexible for both conventional window glass
or for thermally pre-stressed float glass, including single-pane safety
glass. Safety glass is used for many architectural applications, both
inside and out, for example glass façades, glass doors or room
partitions, or for designer furniture.
The project „Development of laser-based structuring process for
glass surfaces“ has received financial support from the German
Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) through the German
Federation of Industrial Research Associations "Otto von Guericke"
e.V., within the framework of the supportive measure “Central
Innovation Program for Medium-Sized Businesses” (ZIM).
More information at http://www.lzh.de/