Fiber lasers challenge near-IR lasers

Fiber lasers are challenging near-IR lasers as the best process for plastics welding for medical industries, scribing and cutting polymers for automotive industry, and ablating of thin films

At SPI Lasers' applications laboratory in the US, manager Dr. Tony Hoult is challenging the perception of the capabilities of near-infrared lasers versus fiber lasers. When processes with the latest fiber laser, applications such as plastics welding for the medical and mobile phone industries, scribing and cutting polymers for the automotive industry, and ablation of thin films for the photovoltaic industry are showing excellent results, said Dr. Hoult.

SPI is expecting more results for the fiber laser in the near future as the company is asking for more organizations to come forward with further challenges for the fiber laser.

One of the most recent examples of the more surprising results produced by the company's applications laboratory is plastics welding. The welding of plastics was not thought to be suitable for either the high brightness of fiber lasers or the beam characteristics. However, when tested by the applications laboratory, a careful manipulation of the laser beam has made it very easy to produce welds in polymers that are efficient, precise, and time saving, said Hoult.

These types of plastics welds are commonly produced for the medical and mobile phone industries.

Also of real interest currently is the laser ablation of thin films for the photovoltaic industry. In this case, using very high laser frequencies up to 500 kHz for thin film removal produces very precise material removal. This means that the base material, be it glass, plastics, or silicon, remains untouched when processed by one of the fiber lasers.

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