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2016 Was a Good Year for Lasers; 2017 Looks Even Better

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.

Lasers on the Cutting Edge

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.

Grinding Roots

Until the middle of 2010, first-tier subcontract machinist, JJ Churchill, could produce turbine blades only if they had their fir-tree root-forms preground elsewhere, or if they were subsequently added by another subcontractor. No longer is this the case.

The Wide World of Deburring and Refinishing

Burrs, sharp edges, and rough surfaces plague even the most precise metal-cutting or forming process. Deburring and finishing can often be treated as the step-child of a manufacturing process, but its importance is growing as tolerances get tighter and precision devices become the norm.

Laser Genius Elevates Productivity to New Heights

Like its products, technology demands for thyssenkrupp Elevator Corp. are “going up.” A business unit of ThyssenKrupp Elevator AG, the company oversees all business operations in the US, Canada, and Central and South America, and says it is the largest producer of elevators in the Americas, with 13,500 employees, more than 200 branches and service locations, and sales of $2.7 billion.

Keeping Old Planes in the Air with Laser Scanning

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.

3D Laser Gaging Ensures Flawless Engine Fasteners

In an automobile engine, seven types of screws out of approximately 70 are considered critical to achieving the engine’s specified design performance, despite high vibration and heat. The seven include bolts for the cylinder head, crankshaft, con rod, flywheel, and main bearing cap, as well as for the camshaft cap, camshaft sprocket and VCT.

3D-Printed Parts Restore Cars’ Glory

Daimler may be the first vehicle maker to offer 3D-printed replacement parts, but racing enthusiasts and car collectors like Jay Leno have been using additive manufacturing and 3D scanning for many years to replace worn-out parts or to enhance their rides.

New Generation 3D Lasers Grow Metro-Detroit Job Shop

Sometimes succession of a family business from one generation to the next doesn’t always go as planned. Take, for example, Laser Specialists Inc. (Fraser, MI). Incorporated in 1986, the company was positioned at the forefront of laser cutting technology.