UK independent research and development, consultancy and testing facility, Glass Technology Services Ltd (GTS), is developing laser process to optimise the production of customised three dimensional glass components.

Designed to meet increased industry demand for low-cost, flexible manufacturing of complex glass shapes, 3D Clear-Cut will enable several pieces to be laser-cut from a single block of glass.

“It is difficult to produce small, complex, 3D shapes to a high degree of precision using conventional glass processing technology,” said Robert Ireson, Innovation Team Leader at GTS.

“It is hoped that the novel laser process will have minimal energy input, with the option of controlling certain optical properties.

Customised 3D shapes can be manufactured with this non-contact process in a short time frame, with high precision and minimum waste, meeting demand across the industry for flexible, energy-efficient production of glass components, particularly for use in the photonics applications, including lasers and sensors.”

The new process will complement a separate major development project under way at GTS to produce compact, low cost and eye-safe laser-illuminated imaging sensors, for use in optical communications, medical diagnostics, remote sensing, range finding and targeting.

Photonics and material science experts at GTS are working with project leaders, Thales UK’s Optronics business in Glasgow, on the Light-MiLES project, which has been awarded a grant by Innovate UK, the national innovation agency and the new name for the Technology Strategy Board, to forward advances in technology and innovation.

Other partners in the specialist consortium include Gooch & Housego Ltd and the University of Leeds.