Materials Processing

Materials Processing

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.
Various levels of integration are available, depending on what your application needs:
  • 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
Ophir’s 40+ years of experience can give you the confidence to focus on your process, knowing that the tools you depend on will deliver the goods.


Materials Processing: When Laser Measurements Absolutely, Positively Must Be Made

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 >

The Challenge of Focus Shift in High Power Laser Material Processing

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 >

How to easily align optical elements for assembling a complex laser system?

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 >

Material Processing: When to Measure Your Laser

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 >

Industrial Lasers – What You Should Measure

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 >

Must You Measure Industrial Laser Performance?

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 >

Laser Measurement Solutions for High Power Industrial Laser Applications

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 >

How to align an invisible laser beam

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 >

5 Situations Where Laser Performance Measurement is Necessary

Measuring the performance of a laser has possible for a number of years and is accomplished with a variety of techniques. These electronic laser measurement solutions give the laser user more relevant, time-based data that shows trends in laser performance rather than single data points. While these solutions have provided laser users with the ability to present data in a simple and easy to understand manner, the application of the data still seems to be unclear to many laser users. Read more >

How to Make Laser Welding and Cutting Affordable and Sustainable

As production supply chains become ever more complex, turnaround times for vendor parts become increasingly shorter for manufacturers. And nobody with a just-in-time production line can afford quality problems with individual components! Numerous recalls in the automobile industry show the often fatal consequences when defects are identified too late. Read more >

Lasers and Solar Cell Manufacturing, Scribing of Photovoltaic Materials

Solar technologies use the sun's energy to provide heat, light, hot water, electricity, and even cooling, for homes, businesses, and industry. Despite sunlight's significant potential for supplying energy, solar power provides less than 1% of U.S. energy needs. Read more >

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