With the arrival of reliable, mass volume lasers, operating at wavelengths from the ultraviolet to infrared, and at high average and peak powers for pulsed laser sources, the laser material processing (LMP) market has grown into a multi-billion-dollar market. It impacts how modern-day products are created, modified, identified, and inspected across various end markets. These markets include microelectronics, automotive production, aerospace part manufacturing, cell editing in the life sciences market, and even global fashion to create new design patterns in denim products.
Laser material processing is a subtractive process where a laser-powered micromachining tool cuts, welds, marks, or shapes metals, plastics, and ceramics. On the other hand, industrial 3D printing is an additive process, where high-power lasers create parts from material powders or resins. The benefits of having well-controlled energy sources make LMP machine tools highly attractive to industrial markets. Many companies have integrated laser-based material processing tools into their processes due to the utility and adaptability of the technology to provide precision machining accuracy and reliable and repeatable operation over sustained periods within minimal human support required.
Laser Material Processing Solutions
Laser material processing is a subtractive manufacturing process that uses a precision laser beam to modify a workpiece following a programmed design. The tool directs the laser beam to the workpiece using advanced mechanics, such as 3D scanning optics or gantry-based x-y positioning and alignment to control the spatial location of the laser spot. Depending on the material type and application, the laser used may be a high-average-power continuous laser or a high-peak-power, nanosecond, picosecond, or femtosecond pulse laser.
Laser Material Processing Capabilities
At Gray Optics, we offer highly-tailored engineering and design support for optics used in high-power laser material processing equipment. Our engineers assist companies in a collaborative partnership model and extend our product development teams to help bring design concepts to fruition while determining the feasibility and a clear path to manufacturability. Our engineers have extensive experience working on major industrial laser machine tool systems, including multi-axis scanning optics, f-theta lenses, and focusing assemblies. Our optical expertise includes beam shaping components, beam expansion optics, multi-elements lenses, custom mirrors, and fiber optics. In addition, our engineering team has direct experience working with coating companies to design and develop customized thin-film optical coatings for spectral (wavelength) control and high laser damaged threshold (LDT) performance. This experience ensures optimization of beam quality (spot size and shape) and spectral purity for each specific application.
Our engineering team can partner with customers at any stage of their product development with a broad range of companies of all sizes, including emerging startups requiring targeted engineering support. As a result, we produce high-performance optics in low or high volumes at competitive prices. Our engineers work hard to make sure customers get what they need, when they need it, without sacrificing product performance or quality.
Work We’ve Done
- Project: Beam delivery optics for a laser material processing machine tool.
- The Problem: The project goal was to create an optical design that would deliver an array of simultaneously focused beam spots at a fixed pitch across a flat field within a predefined mechanical footprint.
- The Solution: Gray Optics created a unique solution using a pair of diffractive optical elements (DOE) and a scan lens designed to operate with high-power lasers to generate the focused spots. We configured the system to minimize chief ray angle and eliminate spot separation variability through the positioning of the DOEs.
- The Outcome: Our design engineer who worked on this project identified off-the-shelf (OTS) optics and configured the design in an arrangement that enabled the use of lower-cost components that reduced to practice in a short period. Our team met the project goals for completion time, including a comprehensive optical analysis, optical tolerancing, and modeling system alignment sensitivities. Ultimately, the final design and optics selection saved the customer more than twice what they would have spent using telecentric lens options
Contact Gray Optics
We are proud to support and be a trusted partner to OEM instrument companies in the laser material processing industry and invite you to learn more about our collaborative partnership model and How We Work.