performs precision laser
micromachining on a
variety of different
plastics, metals, glass,
ceramics, etc. Our
eleven different types
of lasers allow us wide
fexibility to address
We also design and
laser machine tools.
Web site: www.photomachining.com
www.industrial-lasers.com NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 Industrial Laser Solutions 25
accuracy of the geometry on a part being cut can suffer, and the
substantial inertia applied to the motion unit and the frame of the
machine can cause distortion of these components under acceleration, wearing down the drive components.
With the beam delivery, once high power levels are reached ( 6
or 8k W, for example), the energy density at the focus lens in the
cutting unit is so high that the focus will actually start to drift on
those cuts that are long enough to keep the beam active and at full
power. This poses a substantial challenge, as the cutting process
may be unstable unless there are existing components to actively
monitor for these variables.
High-power laser integration
There are ways that successful integration of high-power lasers on
flat bed machines can be addressed. To explore them, we will use
TRUMPF’s TruLaser 5030 fiber machine with an 8k W TruDisk laser
source (FIGURE 4) as an example. When this platform was developed,
it utilized the advanced joining techniques that were already possible with laser welding to increase the strength and rigidity of the
components while also generating a substantially lighter design. By
reducing mass and providing the framework for increased dynamics, laser welding has thus enabled faster, more powerful drives
found on today’s TruLaser 5030 fiber machine. The drives are now
able to accelerate through the cutting process at a considerably
higher rate and this rate of acceleration, also known as the “jerk,”
is unparalleled by any other solution available today (faster jerk
factor equals less time that the processing head spends changing direction). It is also the biggest factor in cutting contour-inten-sive parts, such as those typically found in 2D sheet metal cutting
applications, as fast as possible.
Now, machine tool manufacturers—and ultimately fabricators—
have the ability to harness the performance capabilities of 6 or 8k W
of power without creating friction between the motion unit and
frame that would otherwise cause inconsistencies down the road.
While the limitations of the drive components have been
addressed in a way that requires only an innovative welding process and engineering acumen, controlling for focus drift in the
cutting unit is a bit more challenging. The advantage of a vertically integrated company such as TRUMPF is in its ability to control the process from the creation of the beam, to its connection
to the laser and optic, to the optic itself. For example, the TruLaser
5030 fiber machine has a light sensor inside its optic. This was
built specifically for the machine series’ platform to actively monitor the focal diameter and the mode of the laser beam. This makes
certain that the focal drift of a 6 or 8k W laser is accounted for and
actively adjusts the position of the focus during the cutting process. Without this technology, it is nearly impossible for a fabricator to cut a variety of part geometries and material thicknesses,
especially in an automated environment.
Even with the current laser powers available to manufacturers,
there is an ongoing push for even more choices in laser processing. As these demands are met, new and innovative technologies
will be produced by those builders who have the ability to quickly
and appropriately respond to the demand for greater power, and
do so appropriately. ✺
BRETT THOMPSON ( email@example.com) is a sales engineer at TRUMPF
Inc., Farmington, CT; www.us.trumpf.com.
FIGURE 4. The cavity of a TruDisk disk laser.