The Nd:YAG laser can transmit its beam by fibre-optic cable, simplifying access to the workpiece and making it an ideal partner for a multi-axis-robot. But to realise its potential and achieve wider industrial use, power output must be increased significantly.
TWI has launched a 2-year development programme to create a new 10kW Nd:YAG laser materials processing facility. The collaborative venture to support UK industry was initiated by the Department of Trade and Industry. it currently involves 15 UK-based companies representing the aerospace, automotive, offroad and heavy vehicle, shipbuilding and power supply industries.
Derek Russell, the project's Technical Director, said: 'The starting point for the programme is a Lumonics 4kW Nd:YAG laser. By today's standards this is considered to be very powerful but we will be building it up in a modular form to deliver 10kW.
'Fibre optic beam delivery makes laser processing particularly versatile. Add to this the 2.5 times increase in power we expect to achieve and the YAG laser becomes an extremely attractive manufacturing tool for tackling an extended range of applications'.