This e-newsletter presents selections of business news, company information and happenings in the industrial laser materials processing community. Highlighted are supplier industry activities such as; plant openings or expansion, new process developments, new product introductions, reports from conferences and trade shows and marketing trends. Periodic reports on industry finances and economics advise suppliers of market conditions.
Descriptions of new laser processing systems, advanced laser product developments and related products that assist in processing applications are chosen for their applicability in manufacturing operations such as laser cutting, welding, and surface treatment, drilling and marking operations.
Hybrid /Remote Welding
Advances in production applications for laser welding are occurring with the use of laser systems that combine the energy in a laser beam with that supplied by other heat sources such as TIG, MIG or plasma torches. In this manner the welding of heat sensitive metal alloys can be accommodated.
The largest, in terms of industrial laser system revenues, application for high power lasers is sheet metal cutting used in the fabricated metal products market. More than 50% of all laser system revenues are gained from markets such as job shops, contract manufactures and large manufacturing companies. Because of the importance of laser cutting as a fabricating process and because of the impact the process has on the laser industry's economy this newsletter briefs readers on new developments in technology such as the incipient penetration of fiber lasers into the markets long held by high power CO2 lasers. Unique and innovative use of the laser cutting process is described and technology trends are analyzed.
Medical Device Manufacturing
Industrial laser systems are used by jobshops, sub-contractors and manufacturing companies that manufacture components used as medical devices that are employed widely throughout the global medical industry. Solid state, fiber and CO2 lasers are used to cut, scribe, drill, melt and join by welding a wide array of these devices on both a macro and micro scale. For example laser cutting of micro stents is the process of choice in balloon angioplasty operations.
Microprocessing as defined by Industrial Laser Solutions are those applications that are measured on a micro scale, such as circuit trimming and via drilling, as opposed to those on a macro scale such as auto body welding. Microprocessing is an ideal laser application because it takes advantage of the lasers ability to be focused to a very small spot size with extremely high power density. Depending on the lasers used, fundamental solid state or frequency shifted into the UV wavelengths these high brightens lasers can produce a physical change on a material, metal or nonmetal without excessive thermal effects on the components being processed.
The use of industrial lasers in the solar power industry has mainly focused on their use in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells where solid state, fiber and diode lasers are used to scribe, weld, drill and mark silicon material used to make the cells. Most of these processes occur on a micro scale so thise- newsletter is an offshoot of the microprocessing newsletter in that it concentrates specifically on the PV industry, following its growth as the solar power technology spreads across the world.
Until a few short years ago the joining of plastic materials was a function of hot sealing, ultrasonic welding or epoxy bonding. All of these widespread processes are relatively low cost and for the most part practical. But with the part designer’s shift away from metals in the manufacture of certain products other, faster, less intrusive joining techniques were considered. Among these is the industrial laser which until recently relied heavily of the addition of a laser beam absorbing additives into the plastic compounds.