Pioneer in high-precision micromachining

Published On: 18.12.2023

Publication (german language) by Wirtschaftsforum –

Pionier in der hochpräzisen Mikrobearbeitung

Precision that is only discernible with the aid of a microscope: The trophy is a sample part showcasing high-precision laser micromachining using ultra-short pulse lasers.

In industrial material processing, laser technology has become indispensable. Ultra-short pulse lasers enable highly precise micromachining of all material classes without mechanical impact. GFH GmbH from Deggendorf is one of the global market leaders and technological pioneers in the design and construction of high-precision laser micromachining systems using ultra-short pulse lasers. With increasingly precise and intelligent laser micromachining machines, the company consistently pushes boundaries.

Pioneer in high-precision micromachining - Achieving utmost precision down to the micrometer range, cold material processing without thermal damage to the workpiece, and the ability to work with all material classes including brittle, heat-sensitive, and low-melting materials are clear advantages of ultra-short pulse lasers. GFH GmbH has over 20 years of experience in developing processes for this laser technology and has established itself as an expert in precision manufacturing. "Our guiding principle is to strive for the last micrometer," says Managing Director Florian Lendner. "With our experience and flexibility in the field of high-precision manufacturing, we can serve markets that face limitations with conventional technologies."

Expanding technology broadly

Ultra-short pulse laser technology is still relatively young, and GFH has significantly contributed to its increasing establishment in the industry. Especially the development of the ultra-short pulse laser, emitting pulses in the picosecond to femtosecond range, has propelled the entire technology forward for the company. It enables extremely delicate processing without mechanical impact and is suitable for any material. Since its official founding in 1998 by Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim Helml, GFH has grown steadily and now employs 80 people. "We have grown with ultra-short pulse lasers," explains Florian Lendner, who has been part of the company since 2008. "There have been significant advancements in the technology, and we have expanded its industrial applications broadly. We consider ourselves technology leaders in high-precision drilling and laser turning. As it is still a young technology, new applications are emerging daily. Megatrends such as miniaturization are aligning well with ultra-short pulse lasers."

Intelligent machines

GFH offers four processes in ultra-short pulse laser technology: micro drilling, laser fine cutting, ablation or engraving, and laser turning. Besides machine development and manufacturing, the company also offers contract manufacturing from prototypes to serial production. GFH handles complete assembly, emphasizing their dedication to precision: "We extract the last micrometer from the machine," underscores the managing director. "In recent years, we've focused on high technology throughout the machine lifecycle. We're the only provider capable of offering laser turning, a method for highly accurate machining of rotationally symmetric components, which integrates drilling, cutting, and structuring in a single process step." Depending on customer requirements, the high-precision laser micromachining systems with ultra-short pulse lasers are manufactured based on a modular machine concept. Various base types are expanded with modules to precisely tailor them to different applications. Automation plays an increasingly significant role. The laser machine, equipped with the latest technology and compact design, not only allows for combined laser drilling, turning, and cutting but also enhances output through parallel processing at two stations. The integration of a bar feeder as a loading unit and the removal of finished parts by a six-axis robot ensures complete autonomy. "Our focus remains on software development," notes Florian Lendner. "We aim to incorporate more intelligence into our software. It collects data that is analyzed through algorithms and artificial intelligence, enabling the machine to self-regulate. By achieving operator-independent control, our goal is to make this technology more accessible, especially to medium-sized businesses." Target industries for this niche technology include the watchmaking industry in Switzerland, medical technology, electronics, semiconductor industry, toolmaking, and metrology.

For successful customers

Florian Lendner and the team at GFH GmbH are highly motivated to advance high-precision laser micromachining using ultra-short pulse lasers. "I am still fascinated by lasers and proud that we are among the most recognized names in the industry," says Florian Lendner. "Without our employees and their years of process experience, this development would not have been possible. We have pushed many processes forward. Laser turning, for example, opens up new possibilities and cost-effective production for our customers. We aim to continually evolve these processes and broaden our impact. Intelligence in our machines will be a clear focus to enable our customers' success. Ultimately, our long-term goal is global market leadership."