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Fiber lasers hit 2 kW record mark

17 Jun 2002

The first ever 2 kW continuous-wave fiber laser hits the market and finds instant automotive applications.

US-based IPG Photonics has launched a record breaking 2 kW continuous-wave diode-pumped fiber laser on the market. The first unit will be shipped this month to an automotive customer for a welding application.

The previous record, also from IPG, came with the same technology at the beginning of the year with a 700 W continuous-wave ytterbium laser.

The spot size of the 2 kW laser is 50 µm giving a power density of 100 MW/cm2. The size of the unit is only 110 x 60 x 118 cm including power supply and air-cooling.

Denis Gapontsev, vice president of R&D, told Optics.Org that 4 kW and 10 kW versions would be developed by the end of the year. "You don't need a small spot size for welding but you do need more power," he said. He added that beam delivery could be 100 m long down a 400 µm fiber.

In March of this year, the company shipped its first commercial 350 W fiber laser to a European customer for a materials processing application.

This new line of high power lasers is seen as a replacement for bulkier solid-state Nd:YAG or carbon dioxide lasers because of the scalable power and a ten times better beam quality. The wallplug efficiency is 20% and the lifetime of the pump diodes is estimated at more than 100,000 hours.

"This means several years of operation without maintenance," said Gapontsev. The 700 W version was powerful enough to cut two-inch steel, he added. Other applications include drilling, engraving and marking.

Phillip Hill is editor of Displays Europe and a contributing editor of Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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