IPG Photonics has announced that it has developed an advanced new family of CO2 gas lasers that will allow the company to enter new markets and applications. The first generation of IPG's CO2 gas lasers, with output powers from 1 to 3 kW and operating in the 10.6 micron spectral range, are reportedly more efficient and compact than conventional CO2 lasers now on the market, and can be used for processing nonmetal materials.
With overall wall plug efficiency of 12 to 15% at all power levels and low gas consumption, the multi-kilowatt gas laser is the size of a suitcase and is lightweight (~120 lbs).
"Fiber lasers remain the best choice for a large variety of applications," said Dr. Valentin Gapontsev, IPG's CEO. "In fact, fiber lasers are replacing conventional lasers, including CO2 lasers, in many applications such as metal welding, cladding, sintering and brazing. However, some nonmetal materials like polymers and organic materials could be processed better by the 10 micron spectral range of CO2 gas lasers."
The new line of lasers features a novel patented laser generator that allows the output power to increase without affecting the high optical quality of the beam. IPG's gas lasers are able to produce modes from TEM00 to TEM01 as well as "D" modes making then well suited for high quality and precision cutting.
"The CO2 sealed market, growing at a rate of 6%, is estimated at more than $1 billion with 5,800 units projected worldwide in 2008. There are more than 33,000 high power CO2 lasers in use today," commented Gapontsev.
"Although fiber lasers have started to replace CO2 lasers in metal cutting, there is room in this large market segment for the coexistence of two complementary technologies," he continued.
"Our new CO2 laser should open up new applications for gas lasers because it can withstand accelerations of up to 1G, and it is lightweight and compact," stated Bill Shiner, IPG's VP of Industrial Markets. "For example, with the IPG gas laser's compact size, users can now put the resonator on an overhead gantry rather than use complex free space optics to deliver the laser's power to the workspace."
Customer tests of the new CO2 laser are already lined up. IPG expects to market the new laser starting in the first quarter of 2009.
For more information, go to www.ipgphotonics.com.