We report on the fiber-based transmission of sub-ps single-mode pulses with an average power of 50 W at a wavelength of 1030 nm generated by a TruMicro Series 5000 Femto Edition thin disk amplifier. The air-filled hollow-core Kagométype delivery fiber exhibits a hypocycloid core wall and is tailored to offer very low dispersion and nonlinearity at 1030 nm. It minimizes the mode overlap with the glass components to obtain a sufficiently high damage threshold. With propagation losses of only 20 dB/km and an optimized mode matching and coupling by means of a telescope and a 5- axes table we achieve an overall transmission efficiency of more than 80% with a resulting M2 of 1.15. Our laser source offers the selection of repetition rates from 200 to 800 kHz which translates to pulse energies between 60 and 250 μJ. The pulse duration of 900 fs is maintained at the fiber exit, while the spectral width broadens to 20 nm due to self phase modulation in the air core, which could be used to further compress the pulses temporally. Using a fiber-based beam transport allows for mechanical decoupling of the processing head from the laser source, increasing flexibility for applications in the field of material processing with ultra-short pulsed lasers.
Beam delivery systems are an integral part of industrial laser equipment. Separating laser source and application fiber optic beam delivery is employed wherever great flexibility is required. And today, fiber optic beam delivery of several kW average power is available for continuous wave operation using multimode step index fibers with core diameters of several 100 μm. However, during short-pulse or even ultra-short pulse laser operation step index fibers fail due to high power density levels and nonlinear effects such as self-focusing and induced scattering. Hollow core photonic crystal fibers (HC-PCF) are an alternative to traditional fibers featuring light propagation mostly inside a hollow core, enabling high power handling and drastically reduced nonlinear effects. These fibers have become available during the past decade and are used in research but also for fiber laser systems and exhibit a growing popularity. We report on using HC-PCF fibers and their integration into an industrial beam delivery package comparable to today’s fiber optic standards and will discuss power handling, beam quality and efficiency as well as future prospects of this technology. In a preliminary industrial beam delivery setup 300 fs pulses at 100 W average power could be delivered.
When using a commonly-used quadri-wave lateral shearing interferometer wavefront sensor (QWLSI WFS) for beam size measurements on a high power CO2 laser, artefacts have been observed in the measured irradiance distribution. The grating in the QWLSI WFS not only generates the diffracted first orders that are required for introducing the shear, but also diffracts significantly into higher orders. Consequently, in the few millimeters of free space propagation between the QWLSI WFS grating and its imaging device, the beam size may increase significantly (particularly for infrared wavelengths). This error is typically not accounted for in the subsequent processing of measurement data. To gain insight in this undesirable behavior, physical models of the QWLSI WFS using both complex wave propagation and analytic propagation of the D4sigma beam diameter (and its associated M2) throughout the system have been developed. These models show excellent agreement to experimental data, and indicate that in typical situations the sensor-induced beam size error can easily be 40% or more. Although the QWLSI WFS may not originally be intended for beam size measurements, in most industrial applications cost- and volume limitations will often lead to multiple use of sensor data. To aid in the adequate implementation of a QWLSI WFS for determining beam size, the dependence of the sensor-induced beam size error on various system parameters has been determined (e.g. incoming beam size, grating-to-imager distance, grating geometry, wavelength). Using the presented models and guidelines, the sensor-induced beam size error may be minimized and corrected for.
Monolithic beam expansion elements, which can be used as a cascade and achieve construction lengths much smaller than those of conventional systems are presented. Furthermore, this system is diffraction-limited, and offers a high level of flexibility and continuous extensibility using new elements. The compensation for wavefront errors and divergence introduce by changing the wavelength away from the design wavelength is achieved by employing a new add-on element, which enables the use of monolithic beam expanders from 500nm to 1600nm. We will present experimental results on the diffraction limited performance for some typical combinations out of the 230 possible set-ups.
High-resolution wavefront sensors are used in a wide range of applications. The Shack-Hartmann sensor is the industry standard and mostly used for this kind of analysis. However, with this sensor the analysis can only be performed for narrowband radiation, the recoverable curvature of the wavefront slopes is also restricted by the size of a single lens in the microlens array. The high-resolution Shack Hartmann wavefront sensor (>128×128) is also significantly expensive. The optical differentiation wavefront sensor, on the other hand, consists of only simple and therefore inexpensive components, offers greater signal to noise ratio, allows for high-resolution analysis of wavefront curvature, and is potentially capable of performing broadband measurements. When a transmission mask with linear attenuation along a spatial direction modulates the far field of an optical wave, the spatial wavefront slope along that direction can be recovered from the fluence in the near field after modulation. With two orthogonal measurements one can recover the complete wavefront of the optical wave. In this study the characteristics of such a wavefront sensor are investigated when the linear transmission modulation is implemented with a pixelated binary filter. Such a filter can be produced as a gray-scale quasi-continuous transmission pattern constructed using arrays of small (e.g., 10-micron) transparent or opaque pixels and therefore it can simply be fabricated by conventional lithography techniques. Simulations demonstrate the potential ability of such a pixelated filter to match the performance of a filter with continuously varying transmission, while offering the advantage of better transmission control and reduction of fabrication costs.
Doughnut and inverse-Gauss intensity distributions of laser spot are required in laser technologies like welding, cladding where high power fiber coupled diode or solid-state lasers as well as fiber lasers are used. In comparison to Gaussian and flat-top distributions the doughnut and inverse-Gauss profiles provide more uniform temperature distribution on a work piece – this improves the technology, increase stability of processes and efficiency of using the laser energy, reduce the heat affected zone (HAZ). This type of beam shaping has become frequently asked by users of multimode lasers, especially multimode fiber coupled diode lasers. Refractive field mapping beam shapers are applied as one of solutions for the task to manipulate intensity distribution of multimode lasers. The operation principle of these devices presumes almost lossless transformation of laser beam irradiance from Gaussian to flat-top, doughnut or inverse-Gauss through controlled wavefront manipulation inside a beam shaper using lenses with smooth optical surfaces. This paper will describe some design basics of refractive beam shapers of the field mapping type and optical layouts of their applying with high-power multimode lasers. Examples of real implementations and experimental results will be presented as well.
The core of future automotive lightweight materials is the joining technology of various material mixes. The type of joining will be essential, particularly in electrified propulsion systems, especially as an improved electrical energy transmission leads to a higher total efficiency of the vehicle. The most evident parts to start the optimization process are the traction battery, the electrical performance modules and the engines. Consequently aluminum plays a very central role for lightweight construction applications. However, the physical-technical requirements of components often require the combination with other materials. Thus the joining of mixed material connections is an essential key technology for many of the current developments, for example in the areas E-Mobility, solar energy and lightweight construction. Due to these advantages mixed material joints are already established in the automotive industry and laser beam remote welding is now a focus technology for mixed material connections. The secret of the laser welding process with mixed materials lies within the different areas of the melting phase diagram depending on the mixing ratio and the cooling down rate. According to that areas with unwanted, prim, intermetallic phases arise in the fusion zone. Therefore, laser welding of mixed material connections can currently only be used with additional filler in the automotive industry.
Plastic-metal hybrids are replacing all-metal structures in the automotive, aerospace and other industries at an accelerated rate. The trend towards lightweight construction increasingly demands the usage of polymer components in drive trains, car bodies, gaskets and other applications. However, laser joining of polymers to metals presents significantly greater challenges compared with standard welding processes. We present recent advances in laser hybrid joining processes. Firstly, several metal pre-structuring methods, including selective laser melting (SLM) are characterized and their ability to provide undercut structures in the metal assessed. Secondly, process parameter ranges for hybrid joining of a number of metals (steel, stainless steel, etc.) and polymers (MABS, PA6.6-GF35, PC, PP) are given. Both transmission and direct laser joining processes are presented. Optical heads and clamping devices specifically tailored to the hybrid joining process are introduced. Extensive lap-shear test results are shown that demonstrate that joint strengths exceeding the base material strength (cohesive failure) can be reached with metal-polymer joining. Weathering test series prove that such joints are able to withstand environmental influences typical in targeted fields of application. The obtained results pave the way toward implementing metalpolymer joints in manufacturing processes.
Ultra-high strength and supra-ductile are entering fields of new applications. Those materials are excellent candidates for
modern light-weight construction and functional integration. As ultra-high strength steels the stainless martensitic grade
1.4034 and the bainitic steel UNS 53835 are investigated. For the supra-ductile steels stand two high austenitic steels
with 18 and 28 % manganese. As there are no processing windows an approach from the metallurgical base on is
required. Adjusting the weld microstructure the Q+P and the QT steels require weld heat treatment. The HSD steel is
weldable without. Due to their applications the ultra-high strength steels are welded in as-rolled and strengthened
condition. Also the reaction of the weld on hot stamping is reflected for the martensitic grades. The supra-ductile steels
are welded as solution annealed and work hardened by 50%. The results show the general suitability for laser beam
One of the most important issues in automotive industry is lightweight design, especially since the CO2 emission of new cars has to be reduced by 2020. Plastic and fiber reinforced plastics (e.g. CFRP and GFRP) receive besides new manufacturing methods and the employment of high-strength steels or non-ferrous metals increasing interest. Especially the combination of different materials such as metals and plastics to single components exhausts the entire potential on weight reduction. This article presents an approach based on short laser pulses to join such dissimilar materials in industrial applications.
As sustainability is an essential requirement, lightweight design becomes more and more important, especially for mobility. Reduced weight ensures more efficient vehicles and enables better environmental impact. Besides the design, new materials and material combinations are one major trend to achieve the required weight savings. The use of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics (abbr. CFRP) is widely discussed, but so far high volume applications are rarely to be found. This is mainly due to the fact that parts made of CFRP are much more expensive than conventional parts. Furthermore, the proper technologies for high volume production are not yet ready. Another material with a large potential for lightweight design is aluminum. In comparison to CFRP, aluminum alloys are generally more affordable. As aluminum is a metallic material, production technologies for high volume standard cutting or joining applications are already developed. In addition, bending and deep-drawing can be applied. In automotive engineering, hybrid structures such as combining high-strength steels with lightweight aluminum alloys retain significant weight reduction but also have an advantage over monolithic aluminum - enhanced behavior in case of crash. Therefore, since the use of steel for applications requiring high mechanical properties is unavoidable, methods for joining aluminum with steel parts have to be further developed. Former studies showed that the use of a laser beam can be a possibility to join aluminum to steel parts. In this sense, the laser welding process represents a major challenge, since both materials have different thermal expansion coefficients and properties related to the behavior in corrosive media. Additionally, brittle intermetallic phases are formed during welding. A promising approach to welding aluminum to steel is based on the use of Laser Metal Deposition (abbr. LMD) with deposit materials in the form of powders. Within the present work, the advantages of this approach in comparison to conventional processes, as well as expected limitations are described.
Joining fiber reinforced polymers is an important topic for lightweight construction. Since classical laser transmission welding techniques for polymers have been studied and established in industry for many years joint-strengths within the range of the base material can be achieved. Until now these processes are only used for unfilled and short glass fiber-reinforced thermoplastics using laser absorbing and laser transparent matrices. This knowledge is now transferred to joining long glass fiber reinforced PA6 with high fiber contents without any adhesive additives. As the polymer matrix and glass fibers increase the scattering of the laser beam inside the material, their optical properties, changing with material thickness and fiber content, influence the welding process and require high power lasers. In this article the influence of these material properties (fiber content, material thickness) and the welding parameters like joining speed, laser power and clamping pressure are researched and discussed in detail. The process is also investigated regarding its limitations. Additionally the gap bridging ability of the process is shown in relation to material properties and joining speed.
The brightness of diode lasers is improving continuously and has recently started to approach the level of some solid state lasers. The main technology drivers over the last decade were improvements of the diode laser output power and divergence, enhanced optical stacking techniques and system design, and most recently dense spectral combining. Power densities at the work piece exceed 1 MW/cm2 with commercially available industrial focus optics. These power densities are sufficient for cutting and welding as well as ablation. Single emitter based diode laser systems further offer the advantage of fast current modulation due their lower drive current compared to diode bars. Direct diode lasers may not be able to compete with other technologies as fiber or CO2-lasers in terms of maximum power or beam quality. But diode lasers offer a range of features that are not possible to implement in a classical laser. We present an overview of those features that will make the direct diode laser a very valuable addition in the near future, especially for the materials processing market. As the brightness of diode lasers is constantly improving, BPP of less than 5mm*mrad have been reported with multikW output power. Especially single emitter-based diode lasers further offer the advantage of very fast current modulation due to their low drive current and therefore low drive voltage. State of the art diode drivers are already demonstrated with pulse durations of <10μs and repetition rates can be adjusted continuously from several kHz up to cw mode while addressing power levels from 0-100%. By combining trigger signals with analog modulations nearly any kind of pulse form can be realized. Diode lasers also offer a wide, adaptable range of wavelengths, and wavelength stabilization. We report a line width of less than 0.1nm while the wavelength stability is in the range of MHz which is comparable to solid state lasers. In terms of applications, especially our (broad) wavelength combining technology for power scaling opens the window to new processes of cutting or welding and process control. Fast power modulation through direct current control allows pulses of several microseconds with hundreds of watts average power. Spot sizes of less than 100 μm are obtained at the work piece. Such a diode system allows materials processing with a pulse parameter range that is hardly addressed by any other laser system. High productivity material ablation with cost effective lasers is enabled. The wide variety of wavelengths, high brightness, fast power modulation and high efficiency of diode lasers results in a strong pull of existing markets, but also spurs the development of a wide variety of new applications.
Laser shock processing (LSP) is increasingly applied as an effective technology for the improvement of metallic materials mechanical properties in different types of components as a means of enhancement of their mechanical behavior. As reported in the literature, a main effect resulting from the application of the LSP technique consists on the generation of relatively deep compression residual stresses field into metallic alloy pieces allowing the life improvement of the treated specimens against wear, crack growth and stress corrosion cracking. Additional results accomplished by the authors in the line of practical development of the LSP technique at an experimental level (aiming its integral assessment from an interrelated theoretical and experimental point of view) are presented in this paper. Concretely, experimental results on the residual stress profiles and associated mechanical properties modification successfully reached in typical materials under different LSP irradiation conditions are presented along with a practical correlated analysis on the protective character of the residual stress profiles obtained under different irradiation strategies. In this case, the specific behavior of a widely used material in high reliability components (especially in nuclear and biomedical applications) as AISI 316L is analyzed, the effect of possible “in-service” thermal conditions on the relaxation of the LSP effects being specifically characterized.
This paper presents the development of a compact, desktop laser-cutting system capable of cutting materials such as wood, metal and plastic. A re-commissioned beheaded MakerBot® Replicator 2X is turned into a 3-DOF laser cutter by way of integration with 800W (peak power) fiber laser. Special attention is paid to tear-down, modification and integration of the objective lens in place of the print head. Example cuts in wood and metal will be presented, as well as design of an exhaust system.
The fundamental parameters of a laser beam, such as the exact position and size of the focus or the beam quality factor M² yield vital information both for laser developers and end-users. However, each of these parameters can significantly change on a short time scale due to thermally induced effects in the processing optics or in the laser source itself, leading to process instabilities and non-reproducible results. In order to monitor the transient behavior of these effects, we have developed a camera-based measurement system, which enables full laser beam characterization in online. A novel monolithic beam splitter has been designed which generates a 2D array of images on a single camera chip, each of which corresponds to an intensity cross section of the beam along the propagation axis separated by a well-defined spacing. Thus, using the full area of the camera chip, a large number of measurement planes is achieved, leading to a measurement range sufficient for a full beam characterization conforming to ISO 11146 for a broad range of beam parameters of the incoming beam. The exact beam diameters in each plane are derived by calculation of the 2nd order intensity moments of the individual intensity slices. The processing time needed to carry out both the background filtering and the image processing operations for the full analysis of a single camera image is in the range of a few milliseconds. Hence, the measurement frequency of our system is mainly limited by the frame-rate of the camera.
In additive manufacturing, the quality of products can be traced by observation of process variables track by track and
layer by layer. The stacking of layer wise information can be used to consolidate the entire build up history of a product
thus leading to a truly three dimensional quality histogram. The first step that is necessary to achieve such a quality
histogram is the acquisition of process measurands that are related to product quality.
Successful acquisition of measurements for thermal radiation has been reported in several publications. The authors of
such papers report the detection of changes in boundary conditions of the process by observing the thermal radiation of
the process. It has been reported that for example a change in laser power has an influence on the thermal emission and
that different readings are received for processing a thin powder layer on a solid work piece compared to scanning pure
powder in the situation of an overhang structure. A correlation to the underlying reason for the increase in thermal
radiation however is mostly related to the experimental setup rather than to in process measurements.
This report demonstrates an approach of acquiring and combining synchronous measurements of different physical
properties of the process. The coaxial observation system used in the experiments enables the synchronous acquisition of
measurements of the thermal emission and the acquisition of images that visualize the surface of the powder bed in the
vicinity of the interaction zone. The images are used to monitor the motion of powder particles as they are influenced by
the melting process. This amount of particle motion is then correlated to areas of different powder thicknesses. The
combination of this information with excessive readings in thermal emission classifies the event to be a situation of
noncritical deviation of thermal emission. In fact, this combination of extracted features establishes a first key criterion
for an unequivocal event mapping.
The reality in laser beam profiling is that measurements are performed over a wide spectrum of wavelengths and power ranges. Many applications use multiple laser wavelengths with very different power levels, a fact which dictates a need for a better measuring tool. Rapid progress in the fiber laser area has increased the demand for lasers in the wavelength range of 900 - 1030 nm, while the telecommunication market has increased the demand for wavelength range of 1300nm - 1600 nm, on the other hand the silicone chip manufacturing and mass production requirements tend to lower the laser wavelength towards the 190nm region. In many cases there is a need to combine several lasers together in order to perform a specific task. A typical application is to combine one visible laser for pointing, with a different laser for material processing with a very different wavelength and power level. The visible laser enables accurate pointing before the second laser is operated. The beam profile of the intensity distribution is an important parameter that indicates how a laser beam will behave in an application. Currently a lab, where many different lasers are used, will find itself using various laser beam profilers from several vendors with different specifications and accuracies. It is the propose of this article to present a technological breakthrough in the area of detectors, electronics and optics allowing intricate measurements of lasers with different wavelength and with power levels that vary many orders of magnitude by a single beam profiler.
Structuring by laser remelting enables completely new possibilities for designing surfaces since material is redistributed but not wasted. In addition to technological advantages, cost and time benefits yield from shortened process times, the avoidance of harmful chemicals and the elimination of subsequent finishing steps such as cleaning and polishing. The functional principle requires a completely new optical machine technology that maintains the spatial and temporal superposition and manipulation of three different laser beams emitted from two laser sources of different wavelength. The optical system has already been developed and demonstrated for the processing of flat samples of hot and cold working steel. However, since particularly the structuring of 3D-injection molds represents an application example of high innovation potential, the optical system has to take into account the elliptical beam geometry that occurs when the laser beams irradiate a curved surface. To take full advantage of structuring by remelting for the processing of 3D surfaces, additional optical functionality, called EPS (elliptical pre-shaping) has to be integrated into the existing set-up. The development of the beam shaping devices not only requires the analysis of the mechanisms of the beam projection but also a suitable optical design. Both aspects are discussed in this paper.
This paper presents on the direct laser melted hydroxyapatite coatings achieved by melting the pre-placed powder beds
using Nd-YAG laser. The process development and optimized parameters are reported. The results show that by
changing the laser power and the beam inclined plane it is possible that a desirable coating of HAP that is rich on the
surface can be produced. The microstructures of the coatings showed balling and cracking at beam angles between 0-15°
and at 27° a successful coating was achieved with laser power and scanning speed of 750W and 5mm/s respectively. The
said coating was pore and crack free while it retained non-decomposed HAP crystallites on the surface (mixed). The
microstructure of the transition layer concluded a moderate temperature process since the formed dendrites did not
develop or form secondary arms. The Ca/P conducted on the coating using EDS concluded Ca/P ratio of 8.04 and the
absence of titanium phosphates phase (TiP2). TiP2 is typically associated with the decomposition of HAP and indicate the
presence of high processing temperatures. Even so, the current results indicated that the investigated process was
successful in depositing HAP coating with desirable microstructures even though its bio-corrosion properties still need to
be ascertained before it could be qualified as suitable for biomedical applications.
So far, the main approach to weld absorber-free thermoplastics is exploiting their intrinsic absorption by choosing a
proper wavelength of the laser. In order to melt the joining partners spatially restricted at the interface usually optics with
a high numerical aperture are used. However, practice shows that the heat affected zone (HAZ) extends over a large area
along the beam axis regardless of the optics used. Without clamping or convective cooling thermally induced expansion
of the material can cause blowholes or deformation of the irradiated surface. To reduce the thermal stress on the part
surface a dynamic beam superposition is investigated with the laser beam performing a precession movement.