New normals

April 21, 2021
It’s been a bit more than 12 months since U.S. cities began to shut down in response to the spreading COVID-19 virus.
New Image 2

It’s been a bit more than 12 months since U.S. cities began to shut down in response to the spreading COVID-19 virus. In the beginning, non-essential companies independently exercised caution by closing facilities and asking employees to work remotely from home. For most it was a novel practice, while for others like myself, always having worked from home, it was business as usual. However, as weeks passed and startlingly bad numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths increased, stricter travel bans were enacted. For example, in my home state of Massachusetts, travel to other contiguous states resulted in a voluntary 14-day quarantine. As a consequence, we were essentially on a lockdown, which was only recently lifted as the virus numbers decreased measurably.

One result was the cancellation of established trade shows and technical conferences over the course of the year, with many canceled in the new year and beyond. Consequently, we learned to attend Zoom meetings and virtual trade showsthe latter not a very successful solution in my experience, as these events did not allow for the social contact we journalists thrive on at real shows.

I sense that a trend has been started that may become the norm. Already, companies are offering staff options to be remote and business space vacancies are climbing in key cities throughout the U.S. A rising number of complaints about lack of social contact are being heard and I, for one, having decades of experience, agree it is the most negative factor about working remotely. 

In this issue, a strain gauge, which is used to measure the strain of a technical component, consists of a metallic foil pattern glued on a surface and connected manually. A new approach by researchers at Fraunhofer ILT and i4M Technologies is the direct manufacturing of the sensor and electrical interconnects on the component by a combination of ink-jet printing and laser sintering to allow a fully automatable process. In addition, an integrated low power radio transmitter has been placed on the sensor for wireless telemetry. This way, the sensor can be run for years without connecting to an additional power source (see article).

Ron Schaeffer, our expert on ultrashort-pulse (USP) lasers, writes that their primary focus was on cutting and drilling applications, especially those where the required end product could not be achieved with longer pulse length lasers, or where significant and costly post laser processing was required. However, he posits that these lasers, while normally capable of very high repetition rates (1–10 MHz or more), are limited if the beam cannot be moved fast enough to avoid dwell times long enough to impart heat to the material. Thus, the goal of covering large surfaces economically is hard to achieve. Advances in technology now allow very fast delivery of high-repetition-rate USP light to large functional surfaces, and he explores some of these applications and how the end results are achieved (see article).

Next month, look for Geoff Shannon’s (Coherent) take on advances in laser processing medical devices and an update on very high-power fiber laser metal cutting by Nikki Amico (Bystronic).

About the Author

David Belforte | Contributing Editor

David Belforte (1932-2023) was an internationally recognized authority on industrial laser materials processing and had been actively involved in this technology for more than 50 years. His consulting business, Belforte Associates, served clients interested in advanced manufacturing applications. David held degrees in Chemistry and Production Technology from Northeastern University (Boston, MA). As a researcher, he conducted basic studies in material synthesis for high-temperature applications and held increasingly important positions with companies involved with high-technology materials processing. He co-founded a company that introduced several firsts in advanced welding technology and equipment. David's career in lasers started with the commercialization of the first industrial solid-state laser and a compact CO2 laser for sheet-metal cutting. For several years, he led the development of very high power CO2 lasers for welding and surface treating applications. In addition to consulting, David was the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Industrial Laser Solutions magazine (1986-2022) and contributed to other laser publications, including Laser Focus World. He retired from Laser Focus World in late June 2022.

Sponsored Recommendations

Request a quote: Micro 3D Printed Part or microArch micro-precision 3D printers

April 11, 2024
See the results for yourself! We'll print a benchmark part so that you can assess our quality. Just send us your file and we'll get to work.

Request a free Micro 3D Printed sample part

April 11, 2024
The best way to understand the part quality we can achieve is by seeing it first-hand. Request a free 3D printed high-precision sample part.

How to Tune Servo Systems: The Basics

April 10, 2024
Learn how to tune a servo system using frequency-based tools to meet system specifications by watching our webinar!

Precision Motion Control for Sample Manipulation in Ultra-High Resolution Tomography

April 10, 2024
Learn the critical items that designers and engineers must consider when attempting to achieve reliable ultra-high resolution tomography results here!

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!