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Fiberguide Industries (www.ams.de; Munich, Germany) has introduced a line of standard collimators and focus guides ...

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Collimators and focus guides

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Fiberguide Industries (www.ams.de; Munich, Germany) has introduced a line of standard collimators and focus guides for use with a variety of optical systems. Designed to collimate or focus light exiting an optical fiber to a desired beam diameter, the collimators can be used with laser diodes, photodiodes, acoustic-optic modulators, and other fiber optic devices. Focus guides thread into the collimator, refocusing the beam at a given distance. Collimators and focus guides can be used as matched pairs to couple light in and out of optical devices. The ruggedized modules are manufactured to accept SMA, ST, FC, or machined ferrule style connectors. Collimators are available in three sizes: the macro collimator for optical fiber core sizes larger than 800 µm diameter, the mid-size collimator for sizes up to 800 µm diameter, and the micro collimators for fibers up to 400 µm diameter. Focus guides are available for the macro and mid-size collimators.

Automated load/unload

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LVD Strippit’s (www.lvdgroup.com; Akron, NY) Axel 4020 laser cutting system now offers an optional load/unload system, providing continuous, uninterrupted dynamic laser processing of sheets up to 157 x 78 in with automated material handling. Axel 4020 combines the latest in linear drive technology, laser power, and control systems for large sheet processing. Machine flexibility and productivity is enhanced with the addition of the load/unload system, which can be easily retrofitted at any time. The automated load/unload unit handles sheets up to 1000 kg and is fully integrated and programmable. It allows loading and unloading functions to be performed independently with a plate-to-plate change over time of 29 s. Integration of the load/unload system permits unattended production, freeing the operator to perform other tasks.

Laser power/energy measurement

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A new product catalog from Coherent Inc. (www.coherent.com; Santa Clara, CA) provides detailed specifications for the company’s expanded offering of laser power and energy measurement tools. Specifically, the new “Laser Measurement and Control” catalog details more than 100 products for measuring pulsed and CW lasers from the ultraviolet to the infrared. These include ten different meters and a wide variety of pyroelectric, thermopile, and semiconductor sensors. The catalog provides detailed guidance on choosing the ideal meter and sensor combination for a particular measurement task. In addition, the catalog contains extensive technical background information, including an introduction to key principles of laser measurement technology.

Laser cutting system

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The High Brilliance laser cutting systems from Cy Laser (www.cy-laser.com; Chicago, IL) can cut efficiently carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, and copper. The systems are designed to optimize machine structure elements and equipment operation modes making the overall use of the equipment practical and simple for the user. The equipment utilizes the newest fiber optic technology laser generators, which are compact, do not use any laser gases, and run 100,000 hours before any maintenance is required. Chilling requirements for the generators are minimal and only need a very small chiller unit. The laser beam delivery is carried out by a fiber optic cable measuring less than 1 mm in diameter. No optic banks are required (no lenses, no mirrors) and consequently no beam centering operations are necessary. Automatic focusing is accomplished by capacitive sensors located on the cutting head, through one single lens.

High-speed laser engraving

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With a marking speed of 2.4 m/s or 94.5 in/s, the LS100 Ex laser engraver from Gravograph (www.gravograph.com; Duluth, GA) has a 60 percent higher performance than the previous generation of lasers. With a laser power ranging from 30W to 80W, it is appropriate for applications including part marking, trophies, gifts, leather goods, plastics, wood, acrylic, metals, crystal and glassware, signage, photo engraving and rubber stamp production. At higher powers, cutting acrylic, wood engraving, and Thermark metal marking applications become more practical. The compact LS100Ex has a working area of 24 x 12 in. Its LCD screen is angled, making it visible from either a standing or sitting position. It provides up-to-date information at a glance, and can also give data on previous jobs, running times, etc. The fume and dust exhaust, together with enhanced and improved air flow, improve the processing of materials such as rubber, leather, and acrylic.

Two-axis linear stepper motor gantries

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Compact, low-cost, two-axis linear stepper motor gantries from H2W Technologies Inc. (www.h2wtech.com; Valencia, CA) offer low force, high speed, high repeatability, zero backlash, and long system life. Capable of very precise position, velocity, and acceleration control when integrated with a microstepping drive and indexer, these 2-axis gantries are ideal for precision applications such as laser marking, rapid prototyping, and more. Available in travel lengths up to 72 inches (both X and Y axis), these products feature an open loop accuracy of 0.001 in/ft and repeatability of 0.0004 in. For closed loop operation an optional encoder is available.

Gas distribution and management

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An advanced new gas distribution and management system providing for interchangeable service and continuous supply has been introduced by CONCOA (www.concoa.com; Virginia Beach, VA). Featuring an onboard Web server and embedded software for remote monitoring, secure system configuration, and e-mail notification of real-time system status and events, the IntelliSwitch II includes “look back” and electronic economizer features. Pushing a button or clicking a mouse allows for interchangeable service from high-pressure cylinders to cryogenic liquid cans. Proprietary monitoring software allows IntelliSwitch II to record and transmit data that enables the user to monitor activity from remote sources.

Laser marking on the fly

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For continuous production lines, marking ‘on the fly’ offers flexibility by enabling marking/engraving of the product while it is moving. Miyachi Unitek’s (www.muc.miyachi.com; Monrovia, CA) LMF Series fiber laser markers’ high peak power and pulse frequencies maximize line speed while maintaining excellent mark quality equal to that of static marks: mark text, barcodes, or graphics. The product can be easily integrated into existing lines. Both the 10 and 20W versions are capable of Q-switch frequencies of 2 to 500 kHz for maximum mark quality and speed, and have all the advantages of fiber technology. Additional features include a PC, touchscreen, standalone or pendant operation, intuitive and customizable marking interface, integrated rotary and XYZ motion, LAN connectivity, and an in-line camera option to view the mark and provide a non-intrusive code verification or read capability.

Industrial beam profiler

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Ophir-Spiricon (www.ophir-spiricon.com; Logan, UT) announced ModeCheck, an industrial CO2 laser beam profiler that enables the quantitative measurement and viewing of high-power CO2 beams. Designed to verify performance and reduce changeover time for industrial parts manufacturers, the system measures key characteristics of the laser beam profile in real-time and stores mode images for later recall and comparison. It monitors high-power CW and pulsed lasers in the 8–30 micron range with intensities up to 30 W/cm2.

High-power fiber lasers

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New from Rofin-Sinar Lasers GmbH (www.rofin.com; Hamburg, Germany), the FL Series offers two models; the FL x75 and FL 010 with output powers of 750 and 1000 watts, respectively. The FL series has excellent beam quality and can be coupled in fiber optics with diameters of 50 µm up to 600 µm. This is equivalent to beam qualities of 2.5 to 30 mm x mrad. The FL 010 S optionally offers a fiber laser solution with single mode beam qualities of typically 0.4 mm x mrad and 1000 watt output powers.

With these lasers small parts can be welded with low thermal distortion and minimal heat affected zones, steel or aluminum can be joined with welding depths of several millimeters. The excellent beam quality allows the efficient use of “dynamic beam” scanner systems allowing 2D and 3D geometries to be processed. Optional beam switch and energy share modules provide the greatest utilization of the beam source. A single laser can be used in up to four individual work cells.

High-energy ultrafast lasers

RPMC (www.rpmclasers.com; O’Fallon, MO) now offers compact, air-cooled picosecond lasers manufactured by Attodyne Inc. These ultrafast lasers combine the advantages of robust fiber laser technology with the high energies of solid-state diode-pumped free space amplifiers. A fiber-based DPSS laser, the APL-500-1064 (5ps, 25 µJ @ 10kHz, M2 <1.2) can be pulsed on demand from 0 to 500kHz. Attodyne’s design incorporates a non-traditional laser cavity that is not susceptible to misalignment or frequent maintenance. The modular design of the Attodyne Custom Picosecond Lasers (near to mid-IR, 5uJ–50mJ, 5ps–500ps) allow them to be customized to meet various application needs for power, pulse energy, rep rate, and wavelength. High energy near IR units are available with energy levels of approximately 50mJ at low rep rates. Ultrafast pulsed mid-IR versions are available with pulse energies up to 2mJ.

Laser marking system

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Taufenbach(www.taufenbach.de; Kiel, Germany) has launched the LaserMarker TX020, a complete system for production lines. The air-cooled laser marking system is an economic alternative to the established ink-based printing solutions. The virtually maintenance-free system consists of the user terminal and the ultra compact marking unit, both connected by a flexi-core lead. Integration into existing production lines is simplified by the compact size of the marking unit (42 x 8 x 9cm) and its light weight of only 2.5 kg. An IP65 version for industrial environments is also available. With a marking speed up to 1700 characters per second, the LaserMarker TX020 is an ideal solution for marking on different packaging material as well as plastic, glass, paper, or textiles—even marking on the fly.

compiled by Laureen J. Belleville, laureenb@pennwell.com

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