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FEL Applications - Polymer Surface Processing

Micrograph of laser treated polyester fabric

Micrograph of laser treated polyester fabric

From experience with conventional lasers and other light sources, industry has already determined that the right kind of laser light, at the right price, will have numerous uses in polymer surface processing. One good example is polyester fabric, which today still lacks the texture, feel, and appearance of fabric made from natural fibers. Development of an industrial-scale FEL for high-volume surface treatment will result in substantial improvement. Other prospective polymer-surface-treatment applications of FELs would yield more easily recyclable food packaging, more durable and attractive carpeting, stronger and more versatile composite materials, and antimicrobial surfaces for shipment or storage of food without the need for refrigeration.

This electron micrograph of a polyester fabric surface microroughened with exposure to ultraviolet light from a conventional laser illustrates the effects of surface texturing. Such a laser processing treatment can give a polymer or fiber product new friction, filtration, wetting, or appearance characteristics. Commercially important applications include better adhesion for forming multicomponent film products or composite structures, more effective fibers for use in filters, and improved feel of synthetic fiber fabrics.

Ref.: Kelley, M. J.: An FEL for the Polymer Processing Industries. SPIE Int'l Society for Optical Eng., 1997, SPIE 2988 , pp. 240-244.