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The development of fiber technology has realized the wide application of fiber laser equipment.

Date: 2019-01-21
Times: 24

The development of optical fiber technology has enabled the widespread use of fiber laser equipment in large-scale production in many market segments.

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Automation is expected to drive laser welding in markets such as automobiles.

Car engines convert gasoline into power, but its split fire cover moves the vehicle by transmitting high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The traditional split fire cover has been given to the electronic ignition system, which is followed by the latest developments of the car manufacturers – the fire-free ignition system.

Thanks to the advancement of optical fiber technology, fiber lasers have achieved significant growth. In the past decade, the rapid industrialization and adoption of fiber lasers has been largely attributed to the physicist Valentin Gapontsev, who led the development of optical fiber technology.

“My dream is to see lasers like computers, becoming a tool of choice in mass production, rather than being considered a last resort choice in many applications,” says Gapontsev.

Mr. Gapontsev founded IPG Photonics in Russia in 1991. The company won its first major contract from Italian telecom operator Italtel and subsequently won a second contract from Daimler-Benz Aerospace, which prompted IPG to open a factory in Germany in 1994. In 1998, IPG established its global headquarters in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA.

In 2000, IPG built a new high-capacity factory to manufacture its own diode pump source. The pump diode is a key component in IPG's fiber lasers and amplifiers.

Five years later, IPG was listed in the US. Today, IPG is able to provide a complete set of beam delivery components for fiber laser equipment manufacturers from fiber and optical devices , beam couplers and switches, to processing heads, collimators (a device that narrows the beam), process control and tool selection, etc.


Fast forward pace

“The trend in the cutting market is higher power, faster speed and cutting thicker materials,” said Bryce Sampson, IPG North America Sales Director. “In order to meet these needs in the cutting market, lasers in fiber laser equipment must be able to provide superior cutting quality as the cutting material becomes thicker and thicker. Our job is to provide optical fiber technology at a cost effective price. ”

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IPG's fiber and pump diodes are not only cost effective, they also provide excellent beam quality.

Sampson said, laser device manufacturers are combining IPG lasers with their own hardware and software. “Because of this, we saw a lot of new features in fiber laser equipment at the 2017 International Metalworking and Welding Fair (Fabtech), which were not available three years ago.”

Now, in many cases, when faced with cutting materials for parts and components in the automotive and other fields, manufacturers choose fiber laser cutting machines and give up plasma cutting machines and water jet cutting machines.

However, the application of fiber lasers outside the field of material cutting is far from mature. “We feel that laser welding and brazing (metal joining) will be the next most promising market,” Sampson said. 'Automobiles are the first to use laser welding on their product lines because automated robotic system is ideal for automotive production.'

Sampson explained that the reason is that automakers “have the ability to design parts for a particular process technology”, and for industries that do not have the freedom to redesign parts for technologies like laser welding, this is usually an obstacle.

“As automation becomes more mainstream and more economical, robots become easier to program, and we expect laser welding applications to increase,” Sampson said. “Our job is to get technology to work.”

“As automation becomes more mainstream and more economical, robots become easier to program, and we expect laser welding applications to increase,” Bryce Sampson, IPG


Swing and weld tracking

IPG's Welded Head Adapters of swing and weld tracking, enable manufacturers to achieve consistent soldering results when soldering bright materials such as aluminum, copper and titanium that are prone to high reversal. In the past, when welding such sensitive materials, defects such as pores and hot cracks were often caused.

IPG's Welded Head Adapters of swing and weld tracking, ensure weld consistency when machining materials that are difficult to weld.

With a oscillating weld head, manufacturers can adjust different modes, amplitudes and frequencies to maximize process optimization and minimize defects. In addition, IPG's oscillating welded head allows manufacturers to weld metals of different materials. In general, one material will have two metals with higher melting point or higher reflectivity than the other material.

The melting behavior of the two materials can be controlled by the oscillating head and they are balanced by selecting the correct oscillating parameters. The quality of the weld is improved by controlling the melting and solidification of the intermetallic layer.

“We integrated the two technologies into a compact module,” Sampson said. “This design facilitates simultaneous laser beam sway and weld tracking. By swaying the laser beam, the quality of the weld and the surface finish are improved.”

At the same time, the weld tracker automatically adjusts the lateral position of the weld head when the weld position changes. “The welded head improves the gap-bridge capability without filling material and provides a high-quality weld surface, while the consistency of the entire weld can be significantly improved,” Sampson said. The module is plug and play and is compatible with IPG's D50 high power soldering head.


Cleaning and marking

Fiber lasers are increasingly used in ablation, marking and engraving applications.

Laser ablation is attracting attention from a growing number of customers in the aerospace and automotive sectors. This process can be used to remove paint, clean molds or remove oxide layers and coatings before soldering. “It's faster and produces less waste,” Sampson said.

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In addition, marking and engraving are two other applications where fiber lasers are known for their performance. “This is actually one of our biggest markets,” Sampson said.

“The diversity of traceability requirements and specifications, especially in the field of medical devices, makes it essential to mark and engrave parts.”

Fiber lasers are also increasingly being combined with automated processing. “Now, high-volume demand is driving manufacturers to make decisions about parts production line automation,” Sampson said. “At the same time, manufacturers must also consider part design. If the parts are suitable for automated production and have mass production requirements, fiber lasers will naturally become a part of the automation solution.'

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IPG's building blocks optical fiber and pump diodes, provides the company with a product platform that 'provides higher output power and superior beam quality at lower cost.' Its cladding side pump technology and distributed single-tube pumping architecture are key to the application of fiber laser technology to large-scale production in many industries.

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“We are a vertically integrated company,” Sampson explains. “The key to our success is that our technology is developed by ourselves, which makes it cheaper. We are able to build our network as widely as possible because our products are independent of any other brand. We are trying to expand the use of fiber lasers in the market by working with as more people as possible. ”


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