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Compiled by Laureen Belleville,

Welding thermoplastics

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Laser welding of thermoplastics is achieved by transparency. That is, the laser beam passes through the first layer of plastic without any effect and is then absorbed by the second layer. This composite plastic melts, heating up the first layer by thermal conduction and the two pieces weld together on cooling. ES Weld 70 from ES Technology (Leognan, France; is a 3D laser plastic welding system that accommodates a maximum welding size of 400 x 600 x 300 mm. Other system specifications include a rate of travel of 1.5 m/sec, resolution of 0.5 µm, 808- to 980nm diode laser, and laser output power from 10 to 200 watts CW. According to the manufacturer, system benefits include non-contact welding, watertight and aesthetic welds, and accurate confinement of the weld to the area of the joint.

Five-axis welding

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The VZ2 high-performance, three-dimensional multi-axis laser welding/cutting system from Mitsubishi Laser (Wood Dale, IL; offers speed, accuracy, and flexibility. Reportedly, heads on the VZ2 can be exchanged within 15 minutes. The CO2 laser welding head enables non-contact welding, no magnetic field effects, and stronger welds. The five-axis standard offset head has been optimized for cutting a wide range of materials and thicknesses. A thick-plate cutting head, with capacitance height sensor, cuts up to 0.75-inch mild steel.

Low-profile chiller

Capable of maintaining process temperatures from 41º F to 95º F, the Durachill DCA180 from PolyScience (Niles, IL; provides up to 6000 watts of cooling at 86º F ambient and is available with a variety of options, including DI water compatible wetted parts, conductivity control and display, ambient tracking capability, and a choice of centrifugal or turbine pump. The chiller measures 26.5 x 27 x 42 inches and fits under most workbenches. Standard features include one-touch temperature control with large LED readout, digital pressure/flow rate readout, and analog/serial output capability.

Deep engraving laser system

Billed as an entry-level deep engraving laser system, the Foba G5 from Virtek Vision International Inc. (Waterloo, ON; provides a flexible deep engraving platform with a full range of laser and motion options. According to the company it is capable of supporting full 3D deep engraving for tool molds, mold inserts, stamping and printing dies, and electrodes for EDM. The G5 also can be used for decorative engraving. The system includes an automated 500mm Z travel and the Foba 3D and Foba EMC deep engraving software.

Laser markers

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Protected by a two-year warranty, the ProWriter series of laser markers from Baublys Control Laser (Orlando, FL; consists of fiber, diode, and lamp-pumped laser markers. According to the company, these products represent a major leap forward in quality, performance, and reliability. Available in infrared, green, and ultraviolet wavelengths, the ProWriters are expected to gain wide acceptance in the aerospace, automotive, and medical markets.

Linear motion stages

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Designed to provide very high performance with ease of integration, the IMS-LM linear stages from Newport Corp. (Irvine, CA; offer travel ranges from 300 mm to 600 mm and feature a robust, thermally optimized design. The unit has a 5nm resolution and motion sensitivity of 20 nm. The precision linear encoder and bearings can provide 0.5 µm bidirectional repeatability and an on-axis accuracy of 10 µm at a maximum speed of 500 mm/sec. The company also announced the release of an internal brushless DC servo driver, XPS-DRV02, which is compatible with its XPS Universal high-performance motion controller/driver.

Power meter

New from Gentec-EO Inc. (Quebec City, Quebec; the UP19K-VM/VH series power meter for high-energy pulsed Nd:YAG lasers features damage thresholds up to 5 J/cm2 in energy, 300 W/cm2 in average power, and 100 GW/cm2 in peak power densities. The company says it is the ideal tool for all harmonics at a convenient price.

Laser amplifier module

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Based on the tapered amplifier technology, Toptica (Munich, Germany; offers a pure optical diode laser amplifier module. Without losses in spectral and spatial quality, near-diffraction-limited laser beams, in particular from diode or gas lasers, can be amplified in the spectral range 730 nm to 1085 nm by a factor of 50 to 100 up to an output power of 1 watt and an M2 below 1.7. The BoosTA amplifier can be used for both pulsed (down to sub-picosecond pulse width) and narrowband continuous wave laser sources.

Power and energy meter

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The Universal Meter for Power and Energy (MPE-2500) from Spiricon Power Products Inc. (Logan, UT; interfaces to thermopile, pyroelectric, semiconductor, and temperature probes. The product features a digital readout, analog bar, and dynamic graphs on a high-resolution backlit LCD screen, and a backlit keypad for dark environments. Available accessories consist of diffusers for high peak power lasers and fiberoptic adapters.

Holographic gratings

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Concave Blazed Holographic Gratings from Edmund Optics (Barrington, NJ; simplify system design and system integration, allowing for more compact and sensitive instrumentation, according to the company. They are formed on concave precision glass substrates, enabling them to serve as both the primary dispersive element and the primary focusing element. Available with groove densities ranging from 265/mm to 800/mm, they are aberration corrected to eliminate astigmatism.

Cartesian gantry

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New from Aerotech Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA;, the AGS1000 series Cartesian gantry systems are intended for applications such as high-speed pick-and-place, automated assembly, vision inspection, dispensing stations, and high-accuracy inspection. The company’s BLMC series brushless linear servomotors drive the AGS1000 to speeds of 2 m/s and accelerations of 2 g. Resolution options range from 10 nm to 1.0 µm. Product design is optimized to account for thermal expansion to ensure high accuracy under all operating conditions.

Equipment platforms

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Configurable for a variety of applications, the 9300 Series equipment platforms from Kinetic Systems Inc. (Boston, MA; offers omnidirectional, ultra-low-frequency vibration damping and automatic leveling while raising equipment only inches off the floor. Reportedly, its proprietary airmount system provides excellent vertical isolation, while a proprietary tri-filar pendulum assembly provides stable cradle support for enhanced horizontal isolation. Platform stiffness is comparable to that of a three-inch plate of solid steel at approximately one-third the weight and with more efficient damping.

Aluminum Nitride substrates

CeramTec (Laurens, SC; Alunit (aluminum nitride) substrates with “as fired” surface finishes are available for a range of thin-film and thick-film applications. The recently expanded capabilities include tape cast thicknesses from 0.010 inch to 0.060 inch with large size capabilities to 5.4 inches x 7.4 inches. According to the company, the aluminum nitride ceramic features extremely high heat conductivity.

Gas system software

New Advantium software from CONCOA (Virginia Beach, VA; offers real-time gas system monitoring and event-logging capabilities. The software monitors the output of the Advantium 8 remote alarm and provides both local and off-site notification via e-mail or fax format. The software receives input via the Advantium 8 RS-232 communication port, which can be configured for inert or flammable gases with the company’s intrinsic safety barriers. The software works in the background of a desktop computer and flashes an icon when an alarm event occurs. This enables the user to see what the gas system is doing in the factory.

DPSS Q-switched lasers

The DS40 diode-pumped solid-state Q-switched lasers from Photonics Industries International Inc. (Bohemia, NY; produce up to 25 watts UV at 355 nm at 50 kHz for applications such as via hole drilling, laser singulation, and glass cutting. The unit provides a large range of pulse energies and pulse repetition rates (>150 kHz). Using an end-pumped design, the DS40 delivers TEM00 beam mode quality with M2 < 1.2 with diffraction-limited mode. The end-pumped design facilitates field replaceable pumping diodes.

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