From cutting steel, to drilling via holes in silicon, to marking plastic, a whole range of material processes now make use of the laser to produce results not previously practical.
However, the ever-growing demands for efficient productivity require that the laser process be stable and predictable. Just like any tool used in precision manufacturing, the industrial laser needs to be monitored so that peak performance can be maintained. Detecting a drop in some predefined laser parameter, for example, can then be used to trigger a call for preventive maintenance, can save a lot of money - especially when compared to the cost of downtime and scrapped parts. Proper monitoring of correctly defined laser parameters can also enable process control, so that a drifting parameter can be automatically corrected and the process kept within its specified envelope – ideally without interruption.
To ensure a consistent process over time, the relevant parameters must be measured as a function of time to control performance. The parameters that need to be watched depend on the application, as does the question of how often the watched parameters need to be sampled.
Relevant laser parameters include:
- Average power: Ophir offers sensors for measuring powers up to 120 kilowatts (and down to as low as femtowatts). Various sensor technologies and absorber types are available, each optimized for specific sets of conditions.
- Pulse energy: Sensors are available for measuring single shot pulse energies up to several kilojoules, and repetitive pulse energies of many tens of joules, at repetition rates up to tens of KHz.
- Beam analysis: A wide range of Beam Profiling solutions and accessories are available, both camera based and scanning slit based, for whatever your beam might be throwing at you. Ophir also offers a unique instrument for analyzing focal spot and beam waist without any physical contact with the beam, enabling you to analyze beams with no upper limit on power.
- a complete stand-alone instrument, such as a power meter and sensor on a laboratory optical bench
- simple sensor elements with raw analog output
- customized sensors with built-in communications interface, for when a measurement solution needs to be integrated inside a host system
- complete customized solutions, tailored to your exact needs
19th century British physicist and engineer William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, was the first to say, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” When applying this principle to improving laser-based processes, there are a variety of parameters that must be measured because components of laser systems will always seek a way to revert to their natural states…degradation of the components. Read more >
High-power industrial lasers are valuable tools in material processing. Maintaining them at peak performance and optimizing the processes for which they are used will maximize throughput and minimize downtime. Periodic measurement and longterm monitoring of key laser variables, including laser output power, focused spot size, and focus spot temporal location provide the data you need to increase accuracy and optimize your process. Read more >
Many materials processing laser applications, for example cutting, drilling or marking, all involve a machine inside of which there is a laser and an opto-mechanical system which includes beam shaping and focusing optics, a beam delivery system, and perhaps a galvanometer scanner or other moving parts depending on the application. All these parts have to be aligned when the machine is built and have to maintain their alignment over the course of the machine’s operating life time. Read more >
Most posts here are about how to measure laser power and beam profile. Today let's discuss when to measure them. First, in material processing the number one factor for how a laser will interact with the work piece is it's power density, which is power divided by beam area. That's why it's so important to know the laser beam power and size. Read more >
There are so many different aspects of a laser that you can measure. Which leads to the obvious question: "Which aspects of a laser should you measure?" While there is surely a time and place for all sorts of different metrics, these 3 things cover your bases most of the time: Read more >
With all the advancements in laser technology, lasers have become higher quality and more consistent. Laser manufacturers test and measure their lasers during development, to make sure you, the laser end user, get the highest quality laser system. With all this in mind then, do you really have to measure your laser system? Read more >
Modern production facilities must constantly increase throughput, at less cost, with less scrap, and with minimum downtime. In this video overview, you will learn how application of new, advanced technology in measurement devices, can help both designers and users of industrial laser systems to optimize and control their processes, so they can accomplish these goals and achieve consistently good results – both in quality and quantity. Read more >
Aligning an invisible laser beam with a visible pointer beam may sound simple but to do it right with everything lined up is not so obvious. Here is how it is done: Read more >