Laser: 4 kW factory new laser, 808 nm Diode with lens supplying a 12.5 X 1 mm beam, Robotworx rebuilt Motoman 6 axis robot.
Process: Heat treating and thermal cladding of metal parts primarily for oil and chemical industries and extreme environments.
Tools: LBA-USB-SP620, 50mm CCTV lens, using internal aperture but not tightly closed (estimated at 50%), ND 8 (four ND2, Stackable C-mount filters), photographic camera tripod, table mounted, to place the camera near the target and at an angle to see the beam strike the target. Laser Target: one Poco Graphite PLS-2 Purified Graphite Sample .25" Thick x 2" Width x 2"
Problem: What happens when your company's new laser fails to perform according to specifications and your best customers are waiting weeks for delivery? Does the manufacturer send a field service engineer repeatedly to check for problems? What happens when the manufacturer cannot tell you what is wrong after they finally sent their corporate, factory-level engineers to investigate? Do you demand a full refund if the laser still won't work properly and weeks are passing by? What if you spent a fortune in acquisition, setup, training and labor costs and you thought that you bought the best product available on the market?
Many laser users sympathize with this situation after enduring similar problems with their own lasers. Production line shut-downs, cash-flow disasters, late deliveries, irate customers and irate management are all direct results of having a problem on the production line. It often seems that no one is able to correct the problems quickly or at a reasonable price.
Recently, a manufacturing engineer spoke to Ophir-Spiricon because he could not diagnose the problems with his brand-new, robot-mounted, 4 kW diode laser. The engineer bought the laser to heat-treat metal parts but the laser would not work properly and the laser company did not know why. His power meter readings and his inspection of the scrap products did not show him why his new laser was not working properly. The parts are made for extreme environments found in the chemical and oil industries and after processing, they did not pass the rigorous quality control checks.
The laser company advertisements state that the laser delivers a full-power (4 kW), focused, linear, flat-top beam on the metal parts throughout the duty cycle. The manufacturer-supplied lens should shape the Diode beam into a linear, flat-top beam. The engineer and his technicians suspected that either the laser did not focus properly on the target or the lens did not distribute power correctly on the target surface but all of their checks were inconclusive. The robot did not cause or contribute to the problems and it worked flawlessly throughout the process.
Solution: A visit by an Ophir-Spiricon sales engineer with his LBA-USB-SP620 laser beam diagnostic system found the cause of the faulty laser within a few minutes after setup. The image shown below (see figure one below) captured by the LBA software told the story of the faulty laser.