Lasermet has won the contract to supply and install active laser safety enclosures for three 16kW fibre laser robotic cells at the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering at The University of Manchester.

The contract was to design and construct three laser safety enclosures meeting EN60825-4 with active and passive shielding. An IPG 16 kW fibre laser with multiple outputs is to be used to deliver the laser energy, through fibre beam delivery, to three processing heads for cutting, welding and deposition. These three processing heads will be mounted on three 6-axis Kuka robots and safety enclosures were required for each of the robotic processing cells.

Lasermet developed the Laser Jailer, the Active Laser Guarding System, in record time to provide the safety solution using Fail Safe Technology. Designed under BS EN ISO 13849-1:2008 to be fail safe, the Laser Jailer is ideal for use in laser enclosures where powerful lasers and robots are used for cutting, welding or performing functions where the power of the laser must be prevented from escaping from the enclosure.

There are many benefits associated with Lasermet’s fail safe technology. These include the fact that the system is modular and as such can be installed on almost any scale; from small enclosures measuring around a cubic metre up to large rooms typically 10m x 10m x 3m.

The Laser Jailer is lightweight and can therefore help to reduce the thickness and therefore weight of the walls associated with laser containment. The enclosures at Manchester are of the order of 4 x 3.5 x 2.5m and one of the enclosures has double wide doors entrance for one of the robotic cells to accommodate large workpieces via manual forklifts.

Lasermet’s fail safe technology cuts power to the lasers producing stray laser beams in less than 50ms, thereby rendering the lasers safe and preventing damage to the surrounding enclosure and possible laser exposure to those outside. Lasermet’s dual channel interlock control system is linked into the relevant robot motion control circuitry as well as the respective safety and service systems.

Lasermet’s safety system is hardware reliant and not dependent on software thereby eliminating the potential risks associated with software bugs, upgrades, specific expertise/training and redundancy ensuring a long and safe product life.

The University of Manchester, in partnership with the University of Sheffield, is backed by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the North West Development Agency (NWDA) to create the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC). This will build on the strengths of both the collaborating universities and will be the focal point of the UK nuclear manufacturing supply chain. The University will carry out industry driven strategic research validation and training in the key areas of nuclear build manufacturing.

World-class research will be enabled through state-of-the-art facilities, in part supported by on-going industrial membership, and this will ensure that skills and capability exist for the UK to compete on the world stage in nuclear and advanced manufacturing technology, made safe for use in the Manchester case by the Laser Jailer.