20220117 microstructuring

Milestone in microstructuring

In a team with the company Taktilesdesign GmbH, we have succeeded in generating a scannable QR code injected into plastic. This type of microstructuring is made possible by an ultrashort pulse laser with femto-laser beams.

Picture of the coin chip with QR code in plastic, made at Keppler Feinmechanik: The QR code is even readable from the photo.

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You would like to learn more? Here our press release:

Breakthrough in microstructuring:

Ultra-short pulse laser generates scannable QR code in plastic

The HAILTEC company has succeeded in generating a scannable QR code injected into plastic. This type of microstructuring is made possible by an ultrashort pulse laser with femto-laser beams. The customer, Keppler Feinmechanik, uses the example of a coin chip to demonstrate the successful implementation. The developers see broad application possibilities for QR codes on plastic.

"We need a mold insert with which we can inject QR codes from plastic - and which are readable by smartphone or other devices," Jochen Keppler from Keppler Feinmechanik in Engelsbrand approached HAILTEC GmbH with this request. At first, this sounded impossible because a QR code normally only works as a black and white contrast.

Reflection instead of black and white contrast?

But Jochen Keppler was convinced that the idea could be realized with the help of reflection on the surface and that HAILTEC was the right partner for it - even though a well-known injection molding machine manufacturer assured him that the project was "not feasible. Alexander Renz and the team at HAILTEC accepted the challenge. After a call to Lübeck, Sylvia Goldbach from the company Taktilesdesign GmbH was also on board. The texture development experts at Taktilesdesign and HAILTEC have been cooperating closely for years in the development of functional surface structures - and this project was no exception.

Making the impossible possible

"During the project, I sometimes felt as if we were trying to make the impossible possible. But giving up was out of the question. So we dug deeper and deeper into the subject - and today we are incredibly proud to have succeeded," says HAILTEC Managing Director Alexander Renz. With the help of the ultra-short pulse laser at HAILTEC, the geometrically optimized microstructure of a QR code injected into plastic was created. Thanks to targeted light refraction, this microstructuring creates a deep black effect and can thus be scanned by smartphones. This even works with a photo of the coin chip.

Plastic with tungsten

As an application example, Keppler produced coin chips such as those used as a deposit for shopping carts.A polyamide-based plastic from the company PolyOne, filled with 80 percent tungsten, is used. Thanks to its high density of 11 g/cm³, it has a very high value. The development of the QR code injected into plastic was to be presented at the Technology Days of injection molding machine manufacturer Arburg, but the Corona pandemic thwarted the project.

Possible applications in many industries

There are many possible applications for QR codes on plastic. Scannable QR codes on plastic products such as car tires and other consumer goods are conceivable. After all, vast amounts of information can be stored on a small QR code. The technology has potential for tool and mold makers, injection molders and many others.

High technology on demand

With its femto-laser beams, the ultrashort pulse laser at HAILTEC achieves 3D microstructures with significantly finer resolution than conventional nanolaser technology. The material sublimates directly, without the effect of heat or slag formation - which is why reworking is also kept to a minimum. HAILTEC uses the enormously broad performance spectrum of the laser to impart functional surface structures to components, e.g. tribological, antibacterial, hydrophobic or hydrophilic structures. As a supplier and job store, HAILTEC offers this high technology "on demand".

A portrait of the companies involved:


Tactile Design Ltd.

Taktilesdesign GmbH, founded by Sylvia Goldbach with over 15 years of experience in texturing, is dedicated to enhancing surfaces in a variety of ways. The portfolio ranges from creation and material-dependent feasibility analysis to the provision of data for the final production process to users and product designers. Functional and scalable textures are projected onto the product surface for laser engraving and additive manufacturing or as 3D rendering. In the so-called mapping process, distortions at radii and on free-form surfaces are minimized. https://www.taktilesdesign.de/

KEPPLER Precision Mechanics

Keppler-Feinmechanik is a successful family business for sophisticated and geometrically complex components made of thermoplastics, high-temperature plastics and metal injection molded parts (MIM technology). The service program includes mold making, the production of precision plastic parts, especially technically demanding and geometrically complex small parts as well as assemblies. The combination of comprehensive mold making know-how, perfect process engineering and efficient quality management, certified according to DIN EN ISO 9001:2015 and DIN EN ISO 13485:2016, guarantees optimal production results from prototyping to series production. https://keppler-feinmechanik.de/


Idyll instead of industrial area: The high-tech job store HAIL-TEC is located in the middle of the Swabian Alb biosphere area. Founded in 2004, the supplier specializes in precise high-tech solutions made of metal. The three focal points are: Sample and prototype construction, series production and UKP laser service.HAILTEC operates its own quality management system, is certified according to DIN EN ISO 13485 as well as DIN EN ISO 9001 and controls its production processes via a modern ERP system. From design to tool and fixture construction to the production of prototypes, pilot series and series, the contract manufacturer handles everything at one location.

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