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Innovation: lasers for materials processing

06 Aug 2009

A round-up of new laser system products for materials processing applications.

Photovoltaics manufacturing

Jenoptik's Lasers and Materials Processing Division, Germany, is ramping up its activity in the photovoltaics market with a new laser system based on its JenLas disk IR50 disk-laser technology. The manufacturer claims that the JENOPTIK-VOTAN Solas 1800 laser system will enable photovoltaics developers to increase the conversion efficiency of their solar cells while at the same time driving down production costs. Two versions of the laser are available: a stand-alone system for the development of new products and processes and a technology module for integration into the existing in-line production system.

High-power fibre laser

IPG Photonics
IPG Photonics, Germany, has completed successful tests of its new 10 kW singlemode fibre laser. The laser produces 9.6 kW of singlemode power through a single fibre at total efficiency exceeding 23%. Applications are likely to include remote cutting and welding as well as directed energy. "We designed a new state-of-the-art power amplifier to overcome thermal limitations, avoid higher-order modes and nonlinear effects, despite the enormous power density at this output level," explained Valentin Gapontsev, IPG's chief executive officer.

1064 nm pump module

3S Photonics
3S Photonics, France, has unveiled its first product for non-telecoms applications. The 1064 nm singlemode pump-laser module, the 1064 CHP, is designed for integration into industrial fibre-laser systems used in micromachining applications. Features include output power up to 400 mW at 850 mA and peak power up to 1 W; a low-profile, hermetically sealed 14-pin butterfly package with polarization-maintaining fibre pigtail; integrated thermoelectric cooler, thermistor and back-facet monitor photodiode; operating temperature range from –5 to +75 °C; and operating wavelength range of 1050–1070 nm. Users can choose from two options: a fibre Bragg grating version for wavelength stabilization and a "High PER" format with polarization extinction ratio exceeding 20 dB.

400 W fibre laser

GSI Group
GSI Group, UK, has announced the latest addition to its range of JK fibre lasers for welding and cutting applications. The JK400FL is a 400 W CW source that doubles the available power of the JK product line while using the same single-resonator platform. According to GSI, the singlemode output fibre delivers a near diffraction-limited beam that is consistent and stable across the whole power range. At maximum power, wall-plug efficiency is better than 25%, leading to economic operation and low environmental impact. In-built back-reflection protection ensures that the laser continues to work even in the most demanding applications, without the need for a costly Faraday isolator.

Industrial fibre laser

ES Technology
The es CODE is an ytterbium fibre laser designed with a range of industrial applications in mind – marking, coding, thermoplastics welding, thin cutting, engraving and surface treatment. Developed by ES Technology, France, the laser comes in two versions: the es CODE 300 (30 W output power) and the es CODE 100 (10 W). According to ES, the compact scan head (215 × 60 × 75 mm) and lightweight design (800 g) make the system "a convenient tool for production-line professionals". Specifications include a marking field of 100 × 100 mm (standard); marking speed of 600 characters/s (character height 1 mm); and a spot diameter of 49 or 52 µm.

Laser workstation

The LAZO-Workstation from LIMO, Germany, has been developed for the "particularly smooth and accurate travel" required in the development of many process-optimized surface applications. Specifically, the workstation is designed for thermal processing and efficiency improvement of functional thin layers on a range of substrates using different laser sources (e.g. photovoltaic and semiconductor applications). The platform is also suitable for process development of established laser-diode applications like welding of thermoplastics, cutting, welding and hardening of metallic materials, or temperature-controlled soldering.

Multiwavelength fibre laser

Mobius Photonics
The G1+ Laser System from Mobius Photonics (Santa Clara, CA) is a fibre-based light source configurable for 30 W IR, 18 W green and 10 W UV, with pulsewidths as short as 2 ns and repetition rates up to 1 MHz. Those specifications, available in a diffraction-limited beam, "open new opportunities for companies specializing in micromachining, materials processing and precision manufacturing", says Mobius. Mobius products are based on a pulsed master-oscillator, fibre-power-amplifier (MOFPA) architecture.

Diode-pumped picosecond lasers

Photonics Industries
Photonics Industries (Bohemia, NY) says that its RG series diode-pumped picosecond lasers produce over 3 mJ per pulse at 1 kHz, and over 10 W at 10 kHz at 1064 nm with ∼15 ps nominal pulsewidth – all while still maintaining TEM00 mode quality in a compact, industrial-grade package. Higher-power versions (25 and 40 W at 10 kHz) or higher-pulse-energy formats (5 and 7 mJ/pulse at 1 kHz) are also available. Harmonic outputs such as 532, 355, 266 and 213 nm can be ordered as needed. According to the vendor, "high-pulse-energy picosecond laser pulses with good beam quality can competitively machine thicker materials or materials with feature sizes of ∼1 mm. Such mesoscale laser processing with less heat-affected zones is proving in for a myriad of novel applications on materials such as metals and ceramics."

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