The current rapid development of high-power laser materials processing technology boils down to a two-horse race: fiber lasers, which are building a commanding global presence and have been led by IPG Photonics, and thin-disk lasers, primarily developed for commercial applications by Trumpf and Jenoptik. We have published many articles showing the power and potential of fiber lasers—here are a few sources on the other side of the story:
Photonic Frontiers: Higher powers and shorter pulses from thin-disk lasers, by contributing editor Jeff Hecht
Hecht examines the state of the art in thin-disk laser technology. Thin disks are more than another way to generate high CW powers from solid-state lasers—their low nonlinearity allows high peak powers in picosecond pulses for high-precision drilling and cold ablation cutting many materials.
The inventor of thin-disk laser technology gives an interesting talk about how he and colleagues developed the first thin-disk laser in the early 1990s.
Engineers from Trumpf write about the company's laser diode systems for pumping disk lasers. The company's ultrafast thin-disk laser won the German Future Prize in 2013.
As with the fiber laser, the thin-disk laser can be used as a directed energy weapon. A thin-disk laser system from Boeing, which integrates a series of high-power industrial lasers to generate one concentrated, high-energy beam, exceeded required thresholds for power and beam quality during a demonstration for the U.S. Department of Defense's Robust Electric Laser Initiative (RELI) effort. The laser system output reached more than 30 kW—nearly 30% more power than RELI requirements.