17 Sep 2013
System specifcally designed for very high power YAG and fiber lasers.Ophir Photonics, a developer of precision laser measurement equipment has launched BeamWatch at last week's Lasers for Manufacturing Event in Schaumburg, IL, USA. BeamWatch is a non-contact, focus spot size and position monitor designed for for analysing high-power YAG and fiber lasers.
Ophir - a Newport-owned brand - claims Beamwatch is the industry's first laser monitoring system to accurately measure laser parameters without requiring contact with the beam. Conventional systems place a probe in the beam, causing potential damage and slowing the measurement process; it could take up to two minutes to gather data and characterize the beam.
BeamWatch, in contrast, takes measurements every 60ms, measuring the Rayleigh scatter caused by the beam. This provides instant readings of focus spot size and beam position, as well as dynamic measurements of focal plane location during process start-up. The analyser is designed for material processing applications such as laser cutting, ablating, sintering, drilling, and welding.
"The image in BeamWatch is not the laser beam itself, it's the Rayleigh scatter created by the beam as it travels through the instrument," said Gary Wagner, General Manager, Ophir Photonics. "It's like measuring the beam sideways without interfering with the beam. This provides quick and accurate readings of laser focal length, which is a critical issue as it directly affects the rate at which material can be melted and various thicknesses can be processed."
BeamWatch monitors high power YAG, disc, fiber and diode lasers in the 980-1080nm range. The system takes measurements of the beam at frequent intervals without having to shut down the process or remove extensive tooling and fixtures.
The system offers two interface modes: Technician and Operator. In Technician mode, access is provided to the tools needed for start-up and advanced beam diagnostics, such as optimizing measurement parameters or establishing pass/fail criteria.
In Operator mode, the run-time interface displays measurements at video rates. Graphic displays help operators quickly understand the status of the laser’s performance without having to interact with the laser or the monitoring system.
The system can be set up to compare initial process validation measurements and run in automated pass/fail mode. An Automation Server can be implemented using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), C/C++, or an ActiveX application such as National Instruments' LabVIEW.
About the Author
Mattehw Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.