01 Jun 2011
Industrial laser systems company aims to ramp fiber laser production close to its Corelase subsidiary in Tampere.
Rofin-Sinar has given a further indication of the scale of its strategic investment in fiber laser technology, with the purchase of a block of buildings in Tampere, Finland.
At a cost of $5.3 million the company, which launched two new fiber laser series at the LASER World of Photonics event in Munich last week, has bought a large block of buildings with some 5000 m2 of available floor space, including 800 m2 of existing cleanroom area.
Rofin already has a presence in the country through its Corelase Oy subsidiary, which supplies fiber lasers, primarily for micro processing and marking applications. CEO Günther Braun says that the existing cleanroom and production space will enable the company to accelerate fiber laser module production as it builds up a work force at the site.
“This investment underlines Rofin’s commitment to further strengthen our position in this technology,” he added.
Braun was also in Munich, where Rofin was showing off its FL 030C and FL 040 fiber laser series. The FL 030C is designed for integration into existing laser system machines. It is available at various output powers up to 3 kW, and aimed at cutting applications.
4 kW output
The FL 040 series offers a quoted average power of 4 kW, and is designed for integration into 5-axis machines and robots used in production-line cutting and welding applications. A single-mode version of the FL 040 can deliver up to 1 kW.
Rofin also highlighted its new scanner welding system designed specifically for fiber lasers at the LASER show. It uses a fast beam deflection system for robot-guided multi-spot welding, in combination with a three-axis scanner. Rotating mirrors in the scanner head enable very fast (millisecond-scale) positioning of the beam for all types of laser welding processes, Rofin claims.
The recent advance of fiber lasers into the industrial manufacturing sector was evident at the Munich event, with Trumpf showing its single-mode TruFiber 400 fiber laser integrated within a standard 3003 workstation platform. The company demonstrated high-speed (24 m/min) welding with the 200 W source, and says that metal pieces up to 1.5 mm thick can also be cut with the system.
Meanwhile the GSI subsidiary company JK Lasers showed its 500 W fiber laser modules, which are starting to replace existing Nd:YAG systems in the field, and Coherent revealed plans to launch multi-kilowatt fiber lasers over the next year or so.
All of those companies are striving to compete with the market leader IPG Photonics, which has the advantage of vertical integration including a captive source of single-emitter laser diodes. Since they are unlikely to be able to compete on price with IPG, competitors are seeking to offer value-added benefits in the form of service and OEM solutions.