Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology have developed a flexible fibre laser that is capable of hardening, cutting, and welding in industrial processes.
While lasers have become indispensable tools in industrial machining, they are normally only good at one particular task. The new laser takes advantage of a recent increase in the power of fibre lasers, which can now produce beams of several kilowatts in 50μm fibres.
The flexibility is provided by the Lassy beam shaping system, allowing a narrow circular focus for laser cutting, and a wider rectangular focal spot for hardening processes. The beam is directed by a robotic arm to provide even greater precision.
The laser works at a wavelength of 1μm and allows the laser to cut at twice the rate of comparable CO2 lasers and more than double the wall-plug efficiency.