When you first think of lasers, the mind conjures thoughts of space age creations and works of science fiction that you have seen in your local theater. It may be thought of as an idea in the future. Yet, gas lasers are very much in the present and used in various ways in manufacturing, research, and like applications.
Where Can You Find Gas Lasers?
Since its invention in 1960, the gas laser has evolved into different forms and utilizes and applies different gases. Because of this, there are many industries where gas lasers are used. They are commonly used in the aerospace, automotive and electronics packaging industries. Specifically, gas laser technology use has gained popularity in manufacturing processes due to its ability to deliver precise methods, such as measuring, and to increase the speed of industrial processes as compared to conventional techniques.
Gas Lasers and Welding
One of the most common gases used in gas laser welding is carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide delivers a high conversion efficiency as well as a high-power continuous oscillation (a continuous wave, or CW). There are other gases such as helium and neon (He and Ne) and krypton and argon (Kr and Ar) that are also used on welding metals.
Gas Lasers and Metal Cutting
Gases that are commonly used in the process of cutting metals are nitrogen and oxygen. Nitrogen is a favorite of manufacturing due to its ability to cut a variety of metals, including mild steel, stainless steel and aluminum. Nitrogen is an inert gas which will not react with the molten metal and will leave a clean edge on the metal you are cutting. Nitrogen gas lasers will also prevent discoloration and oxidation of the metal edges.
Oxygen gas lasers give you the benefit of creating more heat than nitrogen which speeds up production due to faster cutting. However, it can damage the edges of the metal being cut through natural oxidation. You will have to employ a clean-up operation step to the edges of the metal (if required) when using an oxygen gas laser.
Other Gas Laser Uses
Gas lasers are also used in the creation of holograms in various forms. Schools and laboratories use helium and neon lasers because of its near perfect beam quality and relatively low cost in application. Some gas lasers, like the hydrogen fluoride type (H and Fl) are very high powered and have certain applications in military uses.
In the medical world, gas lasers have proven themselves in the plastic surgery arena. They are used for skin resurfacing and facelifts, due to the fact that water absorbs the frequency of light that gas lasers produce very well. Gas lasers are also being explored further for uses in welding tissue and suturing.
The future is now with gas lasers and the professionals at nexAir can help with applications in your business to improve efficiency, improve outputs and deliver the right outcomes. Leverage our unique KnowHow to help you Forge Forward into the future with the right gases for your gas lasers.