BeamWatchTM Applications Generate Interest at FMA’s ALAW

by John McCauley, Product Specialist, Ophir-Spiricon

The Advanced Laser Applications Workshop (ALAW) is an annual conference hosted by The Fabricators & Manufacturers Associate (FMA) in the Detroit, Michigan area. ALAW is an excellent forum to discover and discuss the latest technologies with respect to material processing that involves the use of a laser. Being in the Detroit area, the conversations primarily address automotive material processing, however, much discussion is also directed toward other industrial markets.

In 2014, Ophir-Spiricon introduced BeamWatch™ to the ALAW attendees. BeamWatch is a non-contact, real-time beam analysis solution that provides measurement of key laser performance parameters. Because it is a non-contact

technique, there is no upper power limit that BeamWatch can measure. It has even been used to measure the highest available fiber laser power of 100kW, without disrupting the beam or without cooling of any kind. And because the data is collected real-time, BeamWatch is the first technology of its kind to provide time-based measurements of the laser’s focused spot location or any other performance trends that are caused by thermal effects on the entire laser system, providing a new statistical data point every 60ms.

BeamWatch generated a lot of interest, both among the audience attending the presentation and at the vendor exhibit. Approximately 150 were in attendance of the conference and around 90-100 or so viewed the presentation.

EWI is a joining technologies applications house located on the Ohio State University campus. They are known for their laser processing innovations, from high-speed video imaging technology for high power laser welding to optical devices for laser paint stripping that is 200- 300% more productive than previous devices. EWI currently operates the highest power (15 kW) fiber-delivered laser available in an independent research environment.

 

Figure 1: Graphs of Focus Shift Between HPRFO and Commercial Processing Heads

EWI has been instrumental in the development of BeamWatch and they understand the benefits of having a solution that measures multi-kilowatt lasers in real-time (and having data that they have never had before). They also are excited to have an alternative laser measurement solution that is manufactured and serviced in the United States. EWI presented some findings about their applications and product development at the ALAW conference.

During their applications work with multi-kilowatt fiber and diode lasers, and during the development of their own processing head, EWI used BeamWatch to determine laser behaviors between the two different laser technologies and to help develop the HPRFO remote welding head. Figure 1 shows a comparison of focused spot location over several seconds of a 10 kW fiber laser between their HPRFO processing head and a typical commercial head.

Figure 2: Graphs of Focus Shift Between
Figure 2 is a comparison between focused spot location between a fiber laser at 5 kW and a diode laser at 5 kW. Without the real-time measurements that BeamWatch provides, this data would not be available or measured, only speculated, at best.
Material processing specialists that use high-powered industrial lasers are just starting to realize the benefits that this new technology brings. BeamWatch will revolutionize the way lasers and laser systems are characterized, qualified, and maintained throughout the industry. And with the CW and peak powers of the industrial laser continually reaching and exceeding new heights, control of these lasers is going to continue to be difficult without solutions that provide the best and most accurate data available.

More information about BeamWatch.

VIDEO: ALAW Presentation: http://youtu.be/7wJlnqFTDNE

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