Advanced laser systems can be used to create a part from a digital design file in just seconds.
of course vary depending on the material being processed,
due to each material’s optical wavelength absorption characteristics. In the example of PET below, a laser wavelength
of 9. 3 µm (CO2) is more easily absorbed than 10. 6 (CO2)
or 1.06 µm (fiber).
Today, product designers, engineers and manufacturers alike demand high quality and finish even on
prototype parts. Achieving these objectives requires
laser technology with precise energy delivery. This is
accomplished through advanced motion path planning,
micron level beam positioning, and by giving users the
ability to fine tune the laser output to their application.
Adjustable laser settings such as wavelength, power,
speed, duty-cycle and pulses per inch (PPI) allow the
user to calibrate the process to their specific material
However, if users are to realize the full potential of-
fered by advanced laser systems, then the process of
selecting the parameters or configuration required for a
specific material must be kept as simple and robust as
possible. Providing the user with a selection of pre-pro-
grammed parameters and settings, tested and proven
through extensive research by the laser manufacturer,
both simplifies this process and significantly reduces the
time required to manufacture parts. Having access to a
comprehensive database of materials knowledge and
configuration settings makes it possible to successfully
process the widest range of materials with the highest
levels of precision and repeatability.
In addition to providing quality repeatable results, ad-
vanced laser systems are highly efficient. As a digital
technology, set up and workflow are immediately sim-
plified. However throughput and quality can be further
improved through high processing speed, advanced path
planning and features such as beam autofocus. The
relationship between laser beam focal point and the
work piece surface greatly influences performance and
quality. Using a high precision motorized focus assembly,
with a high-resolution touch sensor, ensures that regard-
less of material, the correct focal distance will always be
achieved. This valuable feature operates seamlessly with
the many components that are still manufactured from
flat raw materials, and where advanced subtractive laser
technology delivers its greatest benefits.
Achieving and maintaining geometric integrity of com-
ponents, while ensuring that the finished part correlates
to the original design file, requires micron level beam
positioning and advanced motion path planning. This
ensures that shapes or profiles such as circles, ellipses
and curves are actually produced as true curves and not
as a series of small, segmented, linear interpolations.
Combine this functionality with the ability to control laser
pulses at specific locations and both process accuracy
and consistency are further enhanced. Today’s manufac-
turing environment requires ever-greater levels of con-
nectivity both from a digital and physical perspective, as
increasing numbers of processes are linked together.
An advanced laser system with the capability to receive
input signals from a PLC to initiate laser system functions,
and also control external devices using digital output
signals, makes it possible to easily integrate the laser
system within an automated manufacturing environment.
Combine this functionality with a robust and intuitive
interface and users can realize the maximum potential
for either stand-alone or integrated operation.
Selecting a subtractive laser technology with flexibility,
precision and speed will deliver excellent processing
results on a wide range of materials.
Richter sums up: “It’s clear that having the right subtractive laser technology available alongside additive systems
boosts productivity and opens up new possibilities. The
ability to streamline digital workflow and quickly produce
high quality components maximizes manufacturing capability in a way that can only complement additive technology.” Incorporating advanced subtractive laser technology
as part of a broader rapid manufacturing strategy will help
product development and manufacturing teams continue
to increase output and stay ahead of the curve.
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