Washington, DC - The Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML), a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has launched a new multikilowatt laser power measurement service capability for high-power lasers used for applications such as laser welding and cutting of metals. The military could also use the service for specialized uses such as defusing unexploded land mines.
Previously, NIST was the only national metrology institute in the world to offer calibrations for laser power and power meters above 1.5kW. The new service allows NIST to extend its offerings for power levels up to 10kW. Light focused from a 10kW laser is more than a million times more intense than sunlight reaching the Earth.
Researchers used the new system recently to calibrate a company's power meter at 5kW with an uncertainty of about 1 percent over two standard deviations, the accuracy and precision threshold necessary for military and advanced manufacturing applications.
Compared to traditional welding methods, laser welding is lower in cost and has a smaller environmental footprint. Lasers could potentially be used in 25 percent of industrial welding applications, which could result in significant savings for US manufacturers.
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