The future is wearable

Rapid growth of laser applications for material processing was driven during the last decade by a fundamental technological transformation toward product miniaturization.

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Berlin, Germany - Rapid growth of laser applications for material processing was driven during the last decade by a fundamental technological transformation toward product miniaturization. Laser system manufacturers were forced to achieve smarter and more compact designs to account for industrial space limitations for increasing laser installations. At the same time, expectations continuously grew for performance, lifetime, reliability, and simplicity.

Last June in Munich at Laser 2005, Compact Laser Solutions (www.compactlaser.de) rolled out the first generation of handheld, high-power Nd:YAG diode-pumped solid-state laser systems. According to the company, the launching of the internationally patented Nucleon product series will move current technology beyond the limits of today’s product architectures.

Designed for industrial field applications, the product family includes the infrared (1064nm), Q-switched marking and precision-machining device Perpetuum, which outputs up to 10W CW pulse repetition rates from 1 Hz to 50 kHz, with pulse length in the nanosecond range. The frequency-doubled version (532nm), the Rapidus, provides up to 5W CW and operates Q-switched with up to 30 kHz repetition rates in the nanosecond pulse length range. The beam quality of both models is a fundamental TEM00 mode output, for near-diffraction-limited focusing. The Nucleon series additionally contains an ultra-compact, mobile 5W CW in TEM00 mode, frequency-doubled green (532nm) enhanced beam source.

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Applications include micromachining and marking, surface as well as subsurface (for transparent materials such as glass) engraving, nondestructive testing, cutting and trimming, laser ablation and OPO pumping, forensic applications, and uses involving pumping titanium-sapphire lasers.

The product design facilitates integrating these laser systems into all existing production lines and units. The company predicts that integration limitations in industrial applications will disappear because of the highly compact total system outer dimensions which are smaller than a DIN A4 sheet and total weight of less than 6 kg. With pump diode rates in excess of typically 12,000 hours and virtually maintenance-free pure air-cooling design, laser downtimes are expected to be minimized.

In addition to the stationary industrial version, the company will release its pure mobility range. All Nucleon versions will be available as wearable, battery-powered, handheld devices (see photo). The rechargeable battery package, the size of a human fist, continuously generates a 5W CW green laser beam (523nm) up to one hour, resulting in several hours of processing time use in production practices.

Many industries see wearable technology as a way to create service differentiation, attract and retain top performance, increase productivity, and redesign business processes. The company expects that this new mobility will lead to innovative, as yet unknown, applications for the laser processing of materials.

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