What Is Laser Profiling and Why Is It Important?
Lasers are utilized across almost every production and manufacturing process, which is why laser profiling is so important.
Lasers are used in increasing amounts of production processes – in everything from industrial manufacturing applications to electronics design – to perform precise cuts, etch surfaces and create complex contours automatically.
The advantages of handling cuts with lasers instead of traditional mechanical methods are:
- Superior precision
- Ideal surfaces
- Reduced price per product
- Exact specification dimensions
- Less wasted material
Lasers ensure that cuts and finished products meet client specifications – down to the micrometer – time after time.
The area around each cut or hole is perfectly smooth, free of burrs or other surface imperfections. Exact cuts are easy to reproduce no matter how many pieces or configurations are stored in the system’s memory.
How Laser Precision Affects Compressor Valve Components
Compressor valve parts have to be cut perfectly to ensure maximum operating efficiency, quality and longevity. The strength of the valve’s seal is essential to guaranteeing correct flutter-free operation and pressure.
Without a tight seal, the incredible forces generated by the piston would damage the valve and cause premature breakdown of machinery. Any kind of surface imperfection – especially in dirty gas environments – would accelerate valve wear as particles and debris accelerate and nick the area around anomalies.
The Importance of Laser Precision
Precision laser cuts are very desirable for compressor valves. Exact dimensions cause every part to work according to its designed purpose, smoothly and efficiently, meaning a much longer lifespan.
Lasers can craft parts for valves from varying metal thickness and thermoplastic materials equally well.
Enter Laser Beam Profiling
Since a laser is essentially pure energy, it might seem that wear – and the need for maintenance – should be nonexistent. However, a laser’s beam can become misaligned or shift as time passes.
The effect is similar to a cut rope that starts out tightly wound together but eventually begins to fray; precise laser beams can start to radiate energy further outward than desired, causing a gradient effect that heats improperly.
That’s where laser profiling comes into play.
Laser profiling refers to the ability to measure a laser beam’s energy output and waveform which allows engineers to make adjustments as needed to maintain optimum precision.
Adjustments are vital for quality.
What Laser Profiling Measures
Advanced measuring equipment called laser beam profilers detect and analyze four aspects of the laser:
Some types of laser measurement devices also detect total energy output to ensure the focal point is hot enough to cut seamlessly through the desired materials.
The point of making these measurements is to make sure lasers operate at their peak efficiency over the thousands of hours and millions of cuts they have to make.
Accuracy is especially critical for intricate operations that sometimes rely on cutting across several different axes.
Types of Laser Beam Profiling Techniques and Their Advantages
One of the most essential components of modern laser profiling is its software. Complex calculations happen instantly as sensors detect beam topography and quality.
Due to this, many programs allow engineers to see lasers operating in real time, allowing for more reliable results and efficient adjustment.
Of course, before the data can be analyzed, the sensors first need to capture it. This can happen in several ways.
1. Knife Edge Scanning
In this method, the beam is aimed at a sensor behind a spinning drum with several open sections that allow the laser to pass through. Each opening has a precise knife edge that “cuts” through the laser.
Sensors detect exactly what portion of the beam reaches past the knife edge each time to determine shape, width and intensity. Knife edge scanners are typically very accurate and can stand up to high intensities.
2. Camera-Based Measurements
Digital camera-based profilers are extremely easy to use and interface effortlessly with software.
They capture two dimensional laser readings as pixels, making them able to detect the beam’s complete structure and intensity for analysis.
Cameras can handle both pulsed and continuous wave lasers equally well. The only downside of most models is the pixel limitations that make small micron readings difficult.
3. Scanning Slit and Pinhole Profilers
Though technically two different systems, these measurement methods operate similarly: by allowing a small amount of light through a tiny aperture and capturing one-dimensional profiles of the laser.
The advantage of these methods is their precision; even submicron measurements are no problem. The difficulty that arises, however, is attempting to work out two-dimensional images.
This requires extensive repositioning with extreme care, and this can take a lot of time.
Laser Beam Profiling Is the Sign of a Trustworthy Manufacturer
If you perform laser cutting in your own operations, you know how vital maximum quality is to your clients and your company’s reputation.
If the focus of your manufacturing is completely unrelated – such as food processing or electronic parts assembly – you don’t need to worry about laser adjustments personally, but can instead view it as the hallmark of a serious OEM parts provider.
Laser beam profiling requires operators to invest personnel, time and capital, but the results are products without equal.
KB Delta uses the latest and up-to-date laser profiling equipment on our stress-free compressor components; ensuring precisely cut metallic compressor parts.
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