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5 manufacturing industries that use fiber lasers

Aerospace-industry

5 manufacturing industries that use fiber lasers

In today’s competitive environment for manufacturing technologies, the name of the game is speed and reliability. Manufacturing firms need to be able to keep up with the demands of their client, which do tend to increase and evolve over time. Time is money, and tight deadlines are par for the course. Substandard quality in finished products can also be the downfall of any manufacturing company, as can costly damages of in-process goods.

Fiber laser technology offers an elegant and all-encompassing solution to these issues, which can be easily incorporated into most existing manufacturing processes. How effective is Fiber laser technology? Let’s look at how it has become an essential element in the following major industries.

 

Aerospace

The evolution of the aerospace industry has given way to the growth of businesses worldwide through the rapid transportation of goods. It has also enriched the lives of people who travel for leisure. Strides taken by the aerospace industry have also augmented the military capabilities of practically all nations and have revolutionised space exploration.

It’s easy to imagine how meticulous the manufacturing process is for the components that make up an aircraft. After all, lives are literally at stake. Fiber laser technology has been used for ablation, a process by which chemical bonds on the surface of a material are broken off by focusing a pulsed fiber laser on it.

Ablation can be used to make permanent marks on aircraft components which are clear enough to be machine-readable. These marks can also withstand the extreme conditions that aircraft components are exposed to, such as friction due to high speeds, very low temperature, and intense radiation near the Earth’s atmosphere.

Fiber lasers aren’t just for marking – they can be intense enough to drill thousands of holes in an aircraft’s turbine blades. Since the whole process is automated, this process is carried out with utmost precision. Moreover, there is no risk of damage to the fragile turbine blades, since no physical contact needs to be made to drill these holes.

 

Automotive

Recent trends, such as e-mobility, have presented new challenges to the automotive industry. Fortunately, fiber laser technology is more than equipped for these challenges. Since fiber lasers can be used for high-precision laser drilling, laser cutting, and laser welding, they have been used for the manufacture of critical automotive components. The list is pretty long and includes differential gears, stator plates, and coated foils for batteries.

The stators of electric motors have a unique feature – solid copper hairpins that create a magnetic field when the electricity goes through them. Fiber lasers are uniquely suited for hairpin ablation and welding of these copper wires. In fact, fiber lasers may be the only technology that is precise enough to perform this process quickly and reliably. Moreover, fiber lasers can do the task with minimal heat input and without leaving any residue on the material.

Fiber lasers have also been used for the heat treatment of automotive parts. Usually done for various steel components, laser heat treatment modifies the surface of these parts at an atomic level, increasing their resistance to normal wear and tear. Fiber lasers offer a more environmentally friendly alternative for heat treatment, as it does away with having to use any chemicals. Laser treated parts do not require any post machining and are more visually appealing.

 

Jewelry

Fiber laser technology not only can improve existing jewelry designs by colour marking, which alters the surface structure of the material and leaves behind a permanent coloured mark, but it can even be used to create custom pieces. Rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing with the use of lasers has become an increasingly important field, allowing jewelers to create highly customized and personalized pieces of jewelry.

3D printing technology using lasers had made it possible for a 3D design made in CAD to become fully realized as a physical object. This technology can be used to directly create custom jewelry, or as an intermediate step to create a mould for higher scale production.

The technology is very accurate and can reproduce seemingly complex designs effortlessly. Through this process, bespoke jewelry can be made at a fraction of the time it took the old-fashioned way.

 

Medical

Quality healthcare relies on quality medical equipment. Fiber laser technology aids in delivering this level of quality in medical devices, training aids, and pharmaceutical products. Marking using fiber lasers has been used to maintain traceability for medical devices since they can create marks that are permanent and legible. Best of all, marks made by fiber lasers are non-toxic because they use no chemicals.

Very rarely is there a “one size fits all” when it comes to patient-specific medical devices such as prosthetics, implants, and dental products. To this end, rapid prototyping using lasers allows for the production of highly customized parts that are durable and accurately made. Moreover, it’s an economical option even if you only need to manufacture a few pieces.

 

Semi-conductors

When it comes to small and fragile parts like semiconductors, there is no alternative to fiber lasers that can deliver at the same level of precision and versatility. The manufacturing process of semiconductors is long and complex, and parts need to be tagged with tracking numbers and serial numbers to help track them through the whole manufacturing line. This is where laser marking and laser engraving using fiber lasers come in.

Since fiber lasers are a non-contact technology, they can create legible and permanent marks without the risk of secondary damage to the semiconductor material. Using just a single setup, an operator can easily switch between laser marking and laser engraving. It’s even possible to work with a variety of semiconductor materials by simply adjusting the parameters of the fiber laser.

 

Summary

As top industries increasingly adopt the use of fiber laser technology, more and more businesses have started to take notice of the benefits that fiber lasers can provide their manufacturing operations. Fiber lasers are accurate, reliable, highly customizable, and very versatile. They can be easily automated and integrated into most manufacturing processes. With a little creative thinking, your manufacturing operations can also be enhanced with the addition of fiber lasers.

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