Ophir Photonics has released BeamWatch, a non-contact, focus spot size and position monitor for high power YAG and fibre lasers.

Conventional systems place a probe in the beam, causing potential damage and slowing the measurement process; it could take up to two minutes to gather data and characterise the beam. BeamWatch takes measurements every 60ms, measuring the Rayleigh scatter caused by the beam. This provides instant readings of focus spot size and beam position, as well as dynamic measurements of focal plane location during process start-up.

BeamWatch is designed for material processing applications that need consistent, high quality laser performance, including laser cutting, ablating, sintering, drilling, and welding.

BeamWatch monitors high power YAG, disk, fibre and diode lasers in the 980-1,080nm range. The system takes measurements of the beam at frequent intervals without having to shut down the process or remove extensive tooling and fixtures. BeamWatch measures focal spot location at 60ms intervals to indicate whether focal spot shifts are occurring during critical start-up moments.

BeamWatch includes both technician and operator mode interfaces. In technician mode, access is provided to the tools needed for start-up and advanced beam diagnostics, such as optimising measurement parameters or establishing pass/fail criteria. In operator mode, the run-time interface displays measurements at video rates. Graphic displays help operators understand the status of the laser’s performance quickly without having to interact with the laser or the monitoring system.

The system can be set up to compare initial process validation measurements and can be run in automated pass/fail mode. An automation server can be implemented using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), C/C++, or an ActiveX application such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, or National Instruments LabView.