Testing laser power in laser cutting system manufacturing to improve productivity
Tuesday, July 02, 2019
Need an effective plan to deliver customers’ goods on time and to keep a production line working like a well-oiled machine with the key player being “high-power laser”?
Welcome to the laser cutting business! Here, the performance of the key player might have to be inspected to harmoniously maintain and sustain high productivity for the whole team.
You have probably seen, in the media or in real life, images of a production line with several robotic arms cutting vehicle bodies through integrated lasers and striking up sparks without stop. Such high-power laser-based technology has changed the fundamentals of metal and non-metal manufacturing process and has boosted the productivity of many industries by enabling fast cutting speeds, high-quality edges and less energy consumption.
A high-power laser can cut a variety of materials from metals to plastic, and from glass to wood, without any physical contact and any workpiece damage. You can see how, with advances in laser technology, the demand for cutting machines has risen, and new areas of usage are being discovered with each passing day.
High-power laser technology with automation for cutting applications is generally used in continuous manufacturing with uninterrupted flow; thus, a malfunction in the system might affect the efficiency of the whole business. Raw laser power is the key parameter that controls the yield, combined with the assist gasses and motion control system.
Therefore, you need to maintain a stable laser output power with operational repeatability for an efficient cutting process. However, laser power interactions with materials can change during the cutting process, depending on many reasons, and you may need to take precautions for this.
A basic laser cutting system consists of a high-power laser resonator, following a laser head that has several pieces. First, high-power laser cavities integrated in the cutting system might lose their output power stability over time due to several reasons, as explained in this article. In kW laser systems, the performance of the laser might also reduce during the cutting of high reflective materials such as copper and brass due to the back reflection of the laser radiation through the beam-delivery path. Additionally, deterioration of the pieces in the laser head, such as nozzle, focusing lens or gas inlet, over time may cause performance losses.
If you are a laser cutting system owner, instead of checking all the cables and pieces in case of performance losses, monitoring your system’s laser power by using proper power meters is a simple validation test. A periodical output power test according to the production plan will also help you take the relevant precautions before possible system problems and save time by contacting the manufacturer just when the signs of problems first appear.
While testing your high-power laser, it is important to use a proper power meter that can handle your laser’s output power. Today, while laser output power levels increase, laser power detectors have also been revolutionized, and it is possible to find power meters that can handle tens of kW of laser output power in the market. Besides the maximum laser output power, other crucial parameters such as laser beam diameter and wavelength also determine the proper power detector.
Maybe you have a laser cutting business or you get help from laser cutting systems to manufacture your products. No matter who you are, everybody wants to be sure that their business runs like clockwork. The simplest contribution you can make to the laser-related part of your business is to periodically validate its key element—the “laser source”. You can also take a look at this article for more information about choosing a laser power measurement device. Then, our product finder tool will help you to narrow down products on the basis of your choices.