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Industrial Lasers Get To Work At Photonics West

Across the laser diode sector, power improvements and novel module configurations demonstrated their material processing credentials at North America's largest photonics event.

Piercing sheets of metal may not sound like a crowd pleaser, but that s exactly what IPG Photonics industrial fiber laser demo has turned out to be.

At last week s Photonics West conference IPG Photonics CEO Valentin Gapontsev showed a video of the company s 1 kW single mode laser punching 100 holes in only 1.17 seconds.

According to optics.org s blog directly from the event in San Jose, California, the overwhelming reaction to the spectacle was: “Wow".

With IPG also recently recording a big leap in profits (see related story), a growing wave of interest into diode laser-based material processing helped launch a raft of products at the event.

Bookham, for example, chose Photonics West to announce that it is selling its very-high-brightness (VHB) bars to Laserline, a maker of laser modules for industrial processing. The diode bar boasts a power output of 80 W and a narrow emitting area than can be easily coupled into fibers.

JDSU picked the week to demonstrate its next generation Q-switched diode-pumped UV lasers, marketed for material processing in high-throughput semiconductor and microelectronics manufacturing. The new products boost the highest average power available from JDSU s 355 nm Q-series lasers from 10 W to over 24 W.

Materials processing is also a key application for JDSU's L4 series lasers, which the company claims are the most powerful fiber-coupled diodes on the market. L4 lasers are available with output wavelengths from 910 to 980 nm and output power of 10 W.

Defense dividend
The improvements in the output power of JDSU s new products can arguably be attributed to the company s participation in the US Super-High Energy Diode Sources (SHEDS) defense-funded program. Alfalight, another company that worked on the SHEDS project, rolled out its own new products at Photonics West.

“The rapid extension of our successful SHEDS and Wavelength Stabilization Technology (WST) programs enables us to broaden our offering of innovative, high-efficiency, high-power commercial devices," explained Ron Bechtold, vice president of sales and marketing at Alfalight.

The products that Alfalight is targeting at industrial processing come in the shape of individual 10 W 940 nm diodes, and 30 W 808 nm fiber laser pump sources that combine seven single-emitter diodes. Alfalight makes a particular point of the usefulness of its WST technology in the 30 W combined power module, which it calls CPM III.

WST devices integrate a semiconductor grating at the wafer level that constrains temperature-related wavelength drift to 0.07nm/°C. The grating is effective over the 30-40°C range that spans a device's entire operating power.

“We expect that a range of customers will be able to take immediate advantage of these new modules as a cost-competitive upgrade to existing fiber-coupled bar based diode-pumped solid state laser systems or to move to new lower cost air-cooled designs," Bechtold said of the CPM III.

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