In the world of laser additive manufacturing, industry demand for more laser output power to accomplish higher productivity in closed and confined spaces has brought forth a need for a compact self-contained, ultra-compact laser power meter. Multikilowatt applications such as additive manufacturing, metal cutting, and welding require accurate measurement of laser power, which is critical for ensuring product quality, repeatability of operations, and process validation in manufacturing operations.
MKS Instruments (Andover, MA), a global provider of technologies that enable advanced processes and improved productivity, has introduced its Ariel power meter, a robust, battery-powered device that requires no water or fan cooling and is small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. The system measures laser powers from 200 mW to 8 kW, and a wide range of wavelengths including 440–550 nm green and blue lasers, increasingly popular in copper welding; 900–1100 nm fiber lasers, used in most metal processing; 10.6 µm CO2 lasers; and 2.94 µm medical lasers. The Ariel power meter provides a range of features for more flexible measurement options: it measures a wider range of wavelengths; can be operated in continuous or short-exposure mode; can be used with or without a diffuser for higher power densities; delivers 3–5X faster reading times; and can be operated stand-alone or wirelessly.
The Ariel industrial power meter combines two modes of operation to deliver a large measurement range of 200 mW to 8 kW: Measurement of the energy of a short time exposure for high-power lasers up to 8 kW, and longer continuous-wave (CW) power measurements for lower powers up to 500 W. The system's high thermal capacity of 14 kJ means it can measure several consecutive pulses with an accumulated energy of 14 kJ before it needs to cool down. A detachable diffuser allows measurement of high power-density beams.
The Ariel power meter is versatile and durable. It features a robust housing that is dust-proof, resistant to splashes of water, and easy to transport. Communication options include Bluetooth for passing readings from inside a closed machine to a mobile phone or laptop, and a USB-C interface. The power meter can also be operated in stand-alone mode with data displayed on a built-in 128 × 64 pixel LCD display or saved in internal memory.
Software support is provided by Ophir starviewer or Ophir starlab. Starviewer is an Android app that brings laser power measurements to smartphones and tablets. Data can be displayed in a variety of formats: time-based line graph, needle display, or large numeric display with statistics. Starlab is easy-to-use measurement software that turns a PC into a multichannel laser power display station. Data can be displayed graphically as line plots, histograms, bar charts, and simulated analog needles. Advanced measurement processing functions include multichannel comparisons and user-defined mathematical equations.
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