Laser optics, heads and beam delivery components are used in laser cutting machines, laser welding and marking systems. Many types of products are available. Examples include beam benders or mirror blocks, beam collimators, beam expanders, beam pipes or tubes, beam shutters or dumps, beam splitters, beam switchers or galvo mirrors, circular polarizers or phase retarders, fiber optics and cable beam guides, galvanometer scanners, gas assists or laser nozzles, guidance modules or flying optics, laser heads or focusing units, pointing diodes or beam injectors, reflection isolators, resonator optics, and scan lenses. Lens focusing optics, reflective focusing optics and monitoring sensors and systems are also available. With lens focusing optics, the appropriate lens must be selected based on the wavelength and power of the laser beam. Typically, lens focusing optics requires water-cooling during operation. Reflective focusing optics or mirrors are used on very high power laser systems where a lens focusing system would absorb too much of the laser power and overheat. Monitoring sensors or systems detect conditions and provide feedback or control during processing.
Laser optics, heads and beam delivery components are used in a variety of laser systems and subsystems that process metals, plastics, semiconductor wafers, electronic materials, human tissue and medical devices. Some laser optics, heads and beam delivery components are used in laser systems that include two-dimensional (2D) subsystems such as XY or gantry cutting tables. Other components are designed for use with laser systems that produce complex, three-dimensional parts. Laser optics, heads and beam delivery components are commonly used in laser drilling and perforating, laser forming and cladding, laser marking and scribing, laser soldering and brazing, micromachining and trimming, and tube processing operations. They are also used in laser heat treatment, laser cutting, laser welding, web slitting, and continuous material feeding processes.
Selecting laser optics, heads and beam delivery components requires an analysis of laser delivery and laser compatibility specifications. Important considerations include diameter, focal length, clear aperture or beam diameter, laser output power, and laser type. The clear or free aperture size of a laser optics component is the size of the beam diameter as the beam passes through the laser lens or optical component. Clear or free aperture is typically a fraction (86% or 1/e2) of the actual diameter of the lens or optical component. Laser output power is a total or maximum power output or rating. In terms of compatibility, laser components are used with carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers; neodymium-doped, yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) lasers; or diode lasers.
Many laser optics, heads and beam delivery components are designed for larger systems that include a CNC controller that runs automatically, or with little or no operator intervention. These machines change or adjust travel position, speed, laser power, air or gas flow, beam delivery factors and other parameters in a pre-programmed manner. Laser machines that can be controlled or programmed through a personal computer (PC) interface are also available. Manual workstations require an operator. Semi-automatic equipment must be loaded and setup by trained personnel.
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