The recent increase in interest for the use of direct diode lasers instead of CO2 lasers or fiber lasers can be attributed to great improvements in the performance of the laser allowing it to be used in all relevant industrial metals, namely in aluminium fabrication, steel fabrication, and stainless steel fabrication. Direct diode lasers are quickly becoming a favorite for manufacturing and materials processing companies for use during laser cutting.
What is the DDL System?
The direct diode laser technology allows diodes to be used directly thereby eliminating the middleman present in previous fiber laser systems. Previously, in fiber lasers, a doped fiber system was required. However, DDL eliminates this need, and so we are able to obtain a higher quality beam for laser cutting from a smaller and more reliable source.
Advantages of the DDL System
DDL has made improvements, mainly over the three previous systems, CO2, fiber system and disc laser technology:
- Efficiency: One of the main advantageous DDL provides over the other methods of laser cutting is a much higher wall plug efficiency. This is mostly due to the fact that the diodes in the system can be utilized to full effect directly and an additional doped fiber system is not required.
- Cutting speeds: Cutting speeds have received a massive boost in the new DDL system. Under the same power level, the DDL system cuts two to three times faster than the traditional CO2 lasers. This is due to the fact that most of the metals used in these processes, have a higher beam absorption with DDL as opposed to CO2.
- Less reflection: A common problem with cutting reflective materials with fiber laser systems was its inability to cut through highly reactive materials that might damage the laser itself. In some cases, expensive sensors were required to ensure that the laser system does not get damaged during the process of cutting through highly reflective materials that cause back-reflection. This is a problem is rectified and poses as an advantage in DDL systems. Even highly reflective materials such as copper or brass can be easily cut using the diodes.
- Cut quality: When comparing against other laser cutting technologies, direct diode laser systems offer superior beam shape characteristics and stability. These are the main factors allowing it to produce higher quality cuts. In the case of fiber laser systems, the cut diminishes in quality by a large margin when dealing with thicker materials. This is one of the main reasons why CO2 laser systems are used for thicker materials to meet end-user goals in terms of surface quality. However, direct diode lasers go beyond what CO2 lasers offer and produce better quality cuts with thicker materials. This is a massive advantage in favor of direct diode laser systems.
Direct diode laser cutting offers numerous advantages over the traditional system. Therefore, a combination of higher wall plug efficiency, lower costs, coupled with improved reliability and easier servicing, have made it a high priority choice for many manufacturers in the business. Moreover, comparing results from this new system versus the previous ones have more than proven the viability of this system in the industry. It is hoped that other branches in the metal fabrication industry such as metal bending, and metal rolling, will see similar technological improvements.