Industrial lasers require cooling to remove excess heat generated in the resonator power electronics and the optics system. The type of cooling required is determined by laser wattage, resonator efficiency, resonator and optics temperature requirements, and ambient temperature.
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While water and fire tube boiler power plants may be considered archaic, they now power much of North America and will for some time, even as newer, cleaner, greener tech transitions into the mainstream and becomes practical.
Strong 2016 earnings among top industrial laser providers, continued brisk adoption of fiber lasers, cheaper ultrafast lasers, and a host of novel applications and notable corporate acquisitions signal a big year ahead for photonics-based manufacturing.
To stay current with technology and peer into the future of manufacturing, take a look at our preview of IMTS—The International Manufacturing Technology Show, to be held at McCormick Place in Chicago from Sept. 10 through Sept. 15. In the following pages, ME provides in-depth examinations of each pavilion at IMTS, as well as previews of the products you will be able to see displayed at exhibitors’ booths.
Additive manufacturing (AM) pioneer Charles Hull introduced the first commercial 3D printer, the SLA-1, in 1987. Jaws dropped, machinists wondered about their next career, pundits said it spelled the death of traditional manufacturing. None of that happened, thankfully; in fact, some said 3D printing was a bunch of hype, good for little more than investment casting patterns and proof of concept prototypes.
East Iowa Machine Co. (EIMCo) in Farley, Iowa, is a full-service machine and fabrication shop. It is an ISO 9001:2015 certified manufacturing company, employing about 150 people on three shifts at its single 130,000 ft2 (12,077 m3) location, and converts raw metals into finished component parts and assemblies using a wide variety of CNC equipment and state-of-the-art manufacturing processes.
Your father’s Oldsmobile may be long gone but his B-52 is still pulling missions, and they haven’t built the “BUFF” (Big Ugly Fat Fellow) since 1962. The last KC-135 tanker was built in 1965. Besides aging warbirds (the average plane in the US Air Force is over 28 years old) there are hundreds of ancient civilian airliners carrying friendlier payloads everyday. The key to doing this safely is of course excellent maintenance and periodic upgrades. Laser scanning plays an essential role.
Beginning around six years ago, one machine tool builder after another added laser cutting and even welding to their products’ already impressive repertoires.
In the last seven to eight years, solid-state lasers have come to dominate laser welding and cutting,” said Tom Bailey, product specialist for Trumpf Inc. (Farmington, CT). While Trumpf still produces CO2 lasers, for most applications solid-state lasers literally outshine them.
For ABB, robotic welding comes down to a never-ending process of ensuring parts are suitable for laser joining and developing the appropriate processes. To that end, ABB is refining a recent innovation to improve beam delivery speeds and has developed software for on-the-fly welding in tandem with Trumpf’s Intelligent Programmable Focusing Optic (IPFO).