The lasers we use in the robotic systems usually come from well-known European manufacturers of solid-state lasers. We work with all of these suppliers and our process tools can be connected to all their lasers. Permanova keeps abreast of the latest developments in laser technology and usually has process tools ready for use with the latest models of lasers. We have practical experience of high-power lasers up to 16 kW, and our components are tested up to 20 kW. The robot and laser communicate via bus systems for optimal functionality.
The lasers require cooling, as their efficiency is relatively low. Older laser models – lamp-pumped Nd:YAG lasers – have a total efficiency of around 2-3%. A disk laser or fibre laser has around 30% efficiency. Even direct diode lasers now offer a diode life and beam quality that are so good that they can replace lamp-pumped Nd:YAG lasers. They are incredibly compact and have a high level of efficiency (>35%). Lasers can be cooled using an air-cooled compressor cooler, a water-cooled compressor cooler, or simply tap water. Tap water is not recommended, as the water needs to be at a stable temperature.
Newer fibre, disk, and diode lasers take up less floor area compared with lamp-pumped lasers, and because they are more efficient, the cooling units are smaller as well. A major advantage of solid-state lasers is that the laser beam is conducted by way of optical fibre from the laser to the work area. This allows for a good deal of freedom as to where the laser is located relative to the workstation. In addition, a solid-state laser can be easily equipped with an optical beam switcher, which allows the laser beam to be quickly switched between multiple workstations.