At Photonics West, Ophir Photonics announced the expansion of its BeamWatch family of industrial laser beam profilers. Designed for material processing applications, the system is claimed to be the industry's first non-contact, focus spot size and position monitor for very high power YAG, fibre and diode lasers. The profilers instantly and accurately measure laser parameters without requiring contact with the laser beam.
For the cutting and welding of thinner materials, the system now features the ability to monitor focus spots down to 80µm. To determine roundness or the presence of astigmatism, the profilers also provide 2D viewing of beams.
By measuring the Rayleigh scatter of the beam, the BeamWatch system makes no contact with the laser. This allows users to monitor beams at frequent intervals without having to shut down or disrupt the process to gain access. Conventional measurement systems place a probe in the beam, causing potential damage and slowing measurement. While conventional systems take up to two minutes to gather data and characterise the beam, the BeamWatch system provides instant focus spot size measurements in millisecond intervals.
The profilers, which monitor high power YAG, disc, fibre and diode lasers in the 980-1080nm range, measure focal spot location at 60ms intervals to indicate whether focal spot shifts are occurring during critical start-up moments. The system includes the tools to implement an Automation Server written in VBA, C/C++ or ActiveX applications, such as LabVIEW or Microsoft Excel.
The BeamWatch system can be run in two modes: Technician Mode or Operator Mode. The former provides access to the tools needed for start-up and advanced beam diagnostics, while the latter features a run-time interface which displays measurements at video rates. Graphic displays allow operators to quickly understand the status of the laser's performance without having to interact with the laser or the monitoring system.
"Laser cutting applications need the beam focused to a minimum spot size to maximise energy density and produce precision cuts," said Gary Wagner, General Manager, Ophir Photonics. "But many factors affect spot size, including the beam delivery system, thermal lensing, focal length and spherical aberrations. BeamWatch measures key size, position and quality parameters, including focus spot shift, waist width and beam propagation parameter. This means you can finally watch and adjust to focus spot shifts in real-time. And with 2D viewing, you can see whether the beam is really round or if the vertical and horizontal components of the beam focus on different locations along the beam path."