For users of fiber lasers, light reflectivity has long been an issue. As the laser beam bounces off reflective materials, the energy reflects up through the laser head, along the fiber optics and into the circuit board.
If you think this sounds like a costly proposition you would be correct. The sudden burst of energy melts circuit board polymers and damages pump diodes and other key components. As a result, the damaged units must be taken out of service and repaired or replaced. This downtime results in significant cost and lost revenue that cannot be recouped.
To help avoid this problem, many light source manufacturers have adopted a kill switch approach. As sensors detect reflected light, an action is triggered to automatically shut down the laser. While this prevents machine damage, the downside is that the laser must be restarted. In addition, the abrupt shutdown may also damage parts being processed.
While light source technology has progressed steadily since the 1990s in terms of quality, reliability, and safety, perhaps the biggest breakthrough to date comes from light source provider, nLight Corp.
The company offers a revolutionary methodology that, in essence, makes the system immune to back reflection – even with copper, brass, and other highly reflective metals. The nLight system absorbs and neutralizes reflected energy before it can cause damage. This allows cutting operations to continue cutting without skipping a beat.