Non-contact beam monitoring

Sept. 11, 2013
Ophir Photonics is releasing the BeamWatch monitor for high power YAG and fiber lasers at the LME this week.

Schaumburg, IL - Ophir Photonics, a Newport Corp. brand, is announcing the BeamWatch monitor at the Lasers for Manufacturing Event (LME) this week.

BeamWatch is a non-contact, focus spot size and position monitor for high power YAG and fiber lasers. It is a laser monitoring system that quickly and accurately measures laser parameters without requiring contact with the laser beam. 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 characterize the beam.

BeamWatch takes measurements every 60 ms using Rayleigh scattering. 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, and sintering.

"The image in BeamWatch is not the laser beam itself, it’s the Rayleigh scatter created by the beam as it travels through the instrument," said Gary Wagner, GM, US, Ophir Photonics. "It’s like measuring the beam sideways without interfering with the beam. This provides quick and accurate readings of laser focal length. Laser focal length is a critical issue as it directly affects the rate at which material can be melted and various thicknesses can be processed."

BeamWatch monitors high power YAG and fiber lasers in the 980-1080 µm range. The system takes measurements of the beam at frequent intervals without having to shut down the process or remove 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. In Operator Mode, the run-time interface displays measurements at video rates. Graphic displays help operators quickly understand the status of the laser’s performance without having to interact with the laser or the monitoring system.

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