This section is designed to give a brief and we hope, helpful outline of our systems rather than try and describe the whole of the laser industry which would be quite an undertaking for for us and you the reader!
There are many forms and types of laser that have been developed for general and specific functions. We deal with laser systems that are designed to carry out the most general and basic functions to suit your applications. We discuss CO2, YAG and Fiber lasers in this section and we will also discuss beam delivery systems which in essence is the way in which a particular machine guides the laser beam onto the workpiece. We conclude by briefly discussing materials laserable or otherwise!
WHAT DOES A LASER ACTUALLY DO? In essence, depending on the type of laser used, a laser will either vapourise the material at which it is pointed or it will change the material surface creating a contrast. There are many other considerations and special circumstance but fundamentally that's what happens.
CO2 LASERS. A CO2 laser is one where a beam of light is generated and passed into or through a Carbon Dioxide chamber where it is excited by the gas and it accelerates and then is allowed to escape from the chamber. At this point it is guided around the machine by the optics, focussed on the workpiece where the energy creates heat which effects the subject material.
YAG Lasers. We don't actually sell YAG lasers but in industry they used to be the de facto standard for lasers although this is changing now. In the same way that we described the creation of a CO2 excited laser beam a YAG laser beam is created by passing a beam of light through a crystal made from Yttrium Aluminium and Garnet which excites the laser beam to a frequency 10 times greater than a CO2 beam and gives the laser very different properties.
Fiber Lasers. Fiber lasers are relatively new technology but are quickly taking over from YAG as the industrial standard laser source. Fiber lasers run at the same frequency as YAG laser but already have a reputation for excellent reliability having service cycles that far exceed those of the YAG.
Delivery Systems. Once the laser beam has been created it needs to be directed to your workpiece. A laser beam is generally 'focussed' onto the workpiece by a final lens which is at a specific distance from the object to be lasered. Moving the beam around is normally either done by an 'x' and 'y' control system with a rail which moves in one axis with the optic that focusses the beam moving in the opposite axis - this allows the laser to be manipulated over large areas (most of our systems work this way).
The other main delivery method is called a Galvo or steered beam this works by projecting the laser beam into a box normally mounted at the end of the laser beam housing, two mirrors driven by fast moving 'galvanometer' motors with mirrors attached to the shafts these mirrors steer the beam through an optic and literally write the required wording or other graphic. These systems have the advantage of moving very quick but the disadvantage of only working on a small area.
Materials - what can you use? Let start with YAG and Fiber as they both have laser beams running at the same frequency. Whatever 'delivery' system is used this frequency of beam will work well on a great many metals and produces an excellent and well defined mark. Other surface that mark well are the chips that you have in your computer and did you know that your computer keyboard was almost certainly marked with a YAG laser! There are plastic compounds that are used for mouldings which have a laser 'compound' included which enhances the mark from the laser.
CO2 lasers- engraving. CO2 lasers will engrave into materials such as wood, rubber and plastics. A CO2 laser will mark natural materials such as slate, mable and granite as well as glass which is a very popular material. A CO2 laser at power levels below 150 watts will not generally mark metals although with some coatings they can make a very good surface mark.
CO2 lasers - cutting. CO2 lasers will cut materials such as wood, rubber and plastics but will not cut natural stone or glass. CO2 lasers can be made to cut metals but this is normally done a high power levels and in machines designed to do so - see our Kern Lasers