Oxford, MA—It looks like we are going to have to print power records for fiber lasers with an asterisk. No sooner did we print a record from SPI (270 W reported in the March issue of ILS) then IPG Photonics tops it. According to company sources, IPG's YLR ytterbium fiber laser achieved 300 watts of low noise single-mode output power, increasing by 50 percent the output from its existing line of production fiber lasers. And the YLR does this while maintaining a beam quality of M2<1.05
Management at IPG was reticent when ILS asked exactly what applications would benefit from this output power. We were told it was not just power but power at this beam quality. When asked what applications required such high power density, we were told that it wasn't so much power density as focusability, for very fine detail processing. Because microprocessing rarely requires 300 W for penetration, ILS can only assume that throughput is the answer. Perhaps IPG's application is proprietary.
Regardless, we remain taken by the possibility of increasing power at the ytterbium wavelength of 1080 nm. IPG claims it has a multimode version with output to 10 kW. Now we are talking about interest from companies with on-line processing requirements where conventional Nd:YAG lasers need to be installed in eye-safe protective structures. The "eye-safe" ytterbium fiber laser may go a long way to opening a next generation of processing applications in the factory, simply because of reduced safety concerns and costs.
You might want to e-mail IPG (firstname.lastname@example.org) to perhaps get a clue as to what this laser might offer your company.