Direct-diode laser for sheet metal cutting from JDSU, Amada debuts

Milpitas, CA - JDSU (NASDAQ: JDSU) has collaborated with Amada, which manufactures machine tools for metal fabrication, to develop a new direct-diode laser that provides up to 2kW of output power. The laser has been integrated into Amada's ExC sheet metal cutting system, and is being demonstrated at the EuroBLECH event (Hanover, Germany) at Stand D06/F06 in Hall 12 this week.

Related: JDSU and Amada to develop second generation fiber laser 

Direct-diode lasers have predominately been used for welding and for treating the surface of metals during manufacturing processes. The advanced laser design created by the two companies is one of the first solutions that leverages this technology to cut metal.

Direct-diode lasers are gaining momentum over CO2-based cutting systems for metal processing because of advantages they provide, including higher cutting speeds, improved cutting quality, increased energy efficiency, and lower maintenance requirements. These benefits in turn result in lower overall costs for metal processing manufacturers.
According to industry analyst firm Strategies Unlimited, direct-diode lasers are growing as one of the solutions to replace traditional CO2 lasers for metal processing and are projected to represent $237 million in 2017, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.3 percent from 2012–2017.

Executives from both Amada and JDSU unveiled a prototype of the ExC cutting machine at EuroBLECH on October 21st. Benefits of the new system include:

  • Increased energy efficiency. The new DDL engine significantly increases the efficiency, or the percent of electrical power that is converted into usable light, during the metal cutting process.
  • Faster cutting capability & improved cutting quality. ExC cuts mild steel sheets 30 percent faster and cuts aluminum sheets 75 percent faster compared to traditional CO2 systems. It also provides improved smoothness to the cut surface by an order of magnitude based on testing by Amada.
  • Compact size and reduced costs. Maintenance and power costs are dramatically reduced with the new direct-diode laser engine due to its compact and integrated structure and ability to use less power. According to Amada, this translates into approximately a 50-percent reduction in power costs during sheet metal processing.

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