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By John McCauley, Midwest Regional Sales Engineer, Ophir Photonics Group

This year we are celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the laser. Lasers have proven one of the most promising technologies, yet there is still farther to go. With the advancements come more complex and “focused” (no pun intended) laser applications. In some cases, especially with industrial laser processes, it’s getting to the point where the end user -- whether it be the process engineer, quality personnel, or...

Many forces drive the miniaturization of optical component technology. Integration of optical components into smaller packages is expected to reduce size constraints, insertion loss, and manufacturing costs. Many ambitious business plans are based on this integrated technology, as it seems amiable to high volume manufacturing methods similar to those found in the semiconductor industry. However, there are numerous technical hurdles to overcome before this Holy Grail is attained...

One of the recent developments in the photonics industry has been the rapid increase in automated solar panel production facilities.1 Many of these end-to-end production lines use laser-based methods to manufacture the thin film silicon photovoltaic modules. The lasers used for this activity are generally diode-pumped solid-state lasers at 1064nm, 532nm and 355nm with beams focused to around 30μm.2 They are run at powers or energies3 that, although not extremely high, have high power or energy densities at these small beam diameters. The...

Aligning the output of laser diode or fiber optic arrays can be quite challenging. One of the lesser known features of the Photon NanoScan slit profilers is the multibeam analysis capability. The NanoScan software allows the characterization of up to 16 simultaneous beams entering the aperture, allowing the user to examine and evaluate various standard beam parameters displayed within the automatically-determined or user-defined regions-of-interest (ROI) on any or all beams captured by NanoScan. This unique control and selection feature...

Laser System
Fiber laser source

  • 1070nm
  • 600μm fiber
  • CW
  • 1 KW max average power

5-axis movement
Class 1 workstation
125mm focusing lens

Fiber Laser
Figure 1. Profiling setup
...

Results
Included are two screenshots from a recent test using the ModeCheck device from Ophir-Spiricon.
 
The screens below show a comparison of a II-VI MP5 lens and Ophir Optics Black Magic lens.
 
Facts

 

Using ModeCheck ...

Laser Welding System

  • Nd:YAG Laser
  • 1064 nm
  • 300 mJ per pulse
  • 1.5 ms pulse duration
  • Dual pulse laser weld process, 0.2 secs separating each pulse
  • Beam size nominally 150-200 microns (2nd moment) at Focus
  • Beam focus approximately 45 mm from laser focusing lens

Spiricon Beam Profiler

  • BeamGage Professional
  • SP620U Camera
  • LBS-300-NIR with -50 mm focal length lens on the input
Results The...

By Dick Rieley, Sales Manager, Mid-Atlantic Region, Ophir-Spiricon Inc.

One of the facilities of a solar panel manufacturer processes approximately 1,000 panels per shift. Each panel is about 1.5ft x 4ft in size and generates 60W. Their production cost of $2.00 per panel is one of the lowest in the industry.
 
The production process employs both 532nm and 1064nm scribing lasers, mostly 30W systems. Each panel is scribed by both wavelengths through the process. Their design has each panel...

High power is a fairly indistinct term that means different things in different contexts. High power laser beams are handled by using reflective materials, and the level of reflectivity is dependent on the wavelength of the laser light.

By John McCauley Midwest Regional Sales Engineer, the Ophir Photonics Group

American author, engineer, entrepreneur, and consultant in performance improvement H. James Harrington has been credited as saying, “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can't measure something, you can't understand it. If you can't understand it, you can't control it. If you can't control it, you can't improve it.”
 
Even though...

By Dick Rieley. Sales Manager: Mid-Atlantic Region. Ophir-Spiricon LLC

The competitive nature of the manufacturing of solar cells is largely influenced by the zero defect approach of high speed automation. To this end, YAG lasers have been called upon to provide the precise laser scribing of the panels. Once the various layers of photovoltaic materials have been laminated to the glass, the laser is needed to scribe a series of channels that eventually become each of the individual voltage producing...

By Jeffrey L. Guttman, PhD, Director of Technology, Ophir-Spiricon, LLC

This application note is intended to provide guidance for the measurement of the divergence angles of custom optical fibers. This also applies to other divergent sources such as laser diodes or LEDs. Measurement of the divergence of such sources can be made using either the Goniometric Radiometer or...

By Chuck Reagan, Sales Engineer, Ophir-Spiricon

Today’s aircraft are made of materials unknown to early aviation pioneers. These new materials require sophisticated inspection and repair procedures. Older inspection technologies are often incapable of testing and verifying the integrity of some composite structures. So aircraft operators, manufacturers, and government agencies have worked hard to find acceptable technologies to inspect the newer generation aircraft and ensure a level of safely...

By Dan Ford Southwest Regional Sales Engineer, Ophir Photonics Group

In this application, our customer manufactures encoders that incorporate LED’s (light emitting diodes) that have a collimating lens attached. The LED’s produce between 850nm and 880nm at 2mW to 15mW, the beam sizes range from ¼” to ½”. Until now, a laser power meter has been used to verify the output wattage. Shining the beam on graph paper has been used to verify the beam size visually.
...

By Dick Rieley, Mid-Altantic & Southeast Regional Sales Manager, Ophir-Spiricon, LLC

Upon the installation of new laser processing equipment, it is necessary to test and verify the performance of the laser system to insure it meets specification. Just relying upon the test results of the laser prior to shipment is not sufficient – shipping issues, handling problems, and reinstallation activities can all affect the final performance of the equipment. For these reasons, testing the equipment...

By Allen Cary, Director of Marketing, Ophir-Spiricon

The 1780 ModeScan determines M² and other beam propagation parameters of a laser in real time. Traditionally, these laser measurements were performed by directing the laser beam through a lens and measuring the resulting beam waist caustic by moving a beam profiler system or internal mirrors along the beam path. A beam size...

By Dick Rieley, Mid-Altantic Sales Manager, Ophir Photonics Group

A manufacturer was asked to produce a high volume of molded devices that have an <100um hole in the center through which in the final assembly a specific amount of material will pass. Since the product cannot be tested until fully assembled, any device found to have the incorrect hole size, must be rejected and reworked, thereby reducing productivity. Being able to inspect and sort out acceptable from unacceptable devices prior to...

John McCauley, Midwest Sales Engineer, Ophir-Spiricon, LLC
We started by taking a power reading with the 10kW sensor and a Juno USB Interface to a local PC. This particular sensor had a damaged spot on the thermopile element, so I’m not sure it was giving us an accurate reading. However, here were the recorded power readings...

By Allen Cary, Director of Marketing, Ophir Photonics Group (U.S.)

People working with lasers are trying to do something with the light beam, either as the raw beam or, more commonly, modified with optics. Whether it is printing a label on a part, welding a precision joint, or repairing a retina, it is important to understand the nature of the laser beam and its performance. Laser beam characterization instruments provide the tools to know precisely what the laser beam is doing at the point of the work...

By Dick Rieley, Mid-Atlantic Sales Manager, Ophir-Spiricon, LLC

A manufacturer needed to profile and measure diodes that produce a 1300nm CW source in the 10's of mW's. The inspection needed to be conducted in seconds with full accuracy and repeatability because100% inspection was specified to insure the quality level needed by the customer. As this component was a basic element to the finished product, if any defects could be identified at this stage, a significant savings in scrap product...

Anyone who has driven a vehicle has encountered a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system in action. Some of you have even found out how much it can cost in terms of speeding fines! Let’s take a closer look behind the scenes. How do we know the detector is working?

Many customers involved with laser welding measure the pulse energy output of their lasers, but is this all the data required needed to ensure quality welds? Steve Schellenberg at Spinal Modulation had his doubts. While he found pulse energy measurement using his Ophir equipment useful in qualifying his laser welding process, two of his laser welding stations were producing different quality welds despite producing identical laser pulse energies. One laser welder seemed to be doing an OK job, while the other welder produced significantly...

Causes:
  • Resonator problems
  • Beam misalignments
  • Aged optics
  • Damaged optics
  • Gas impurities

Symptoms:

  • Dross on laser cut
  • Decreased cut speeds
  • Low or unstable laser power
  • Off-balance or unstable beam profile

Overall Effect:

  • Loss of TIME and MONEY
...

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...

By Derrick Peterman, Northern California Sales Engineer, Ophir-Spiricon

Do you know why your laser takes longer and longer to cut the same part? It’s because lasers change over time. No one’s surprised when mechanical cutting tools wear out from wear and tear over time. Lasers, with their intense beams of light that weld and cut metals without direct contact, seem impervious to long term change. But we know they often change dramatically over the course of even a few months. This results in...

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