Laser technology represents one of the greatest achievements of the last century. Many claim it is right up there with computing, atomic energy and mapping the human genome. Certainly where our industry is concerned the technology has meant we can cut faster, more accurately and more efficiently than anything before it.
What might once have been labelled as a niche market is now widespread, with massive funding, and the power to attract the best minds, the biggest names in business and the most renowned institutions.
Semiconductor laser chips of ever increasing power lie at the heart of the machines that now drive the metalworking industry and its worldwide development. In such a competitive global market all the main players have a stake at the very highest levels; in the United States for example there has been the US Semiconductor Laser Fusion program, here in the UK the Avil Plan, in Germany the semiconductor Laser 2001 Action Plan, with similar programs in Japan, China and beyond. All share a common goal; to expand knowledge and place Laser technology at the heart of their manufacturing industries and it has paid off every time.
The implications for industries such as automotive, aviation, machinery, steel and fabrication are all incredibly positive. A move away from traditional processes and towards more efficient, environmentally friendly and cost effective processes is almost complete after several decades of research, development and evolution of the technology.
These manufacturing industries are not the only winners however; scientific research, communications technology and the upgrading of existing technology and infrastructure all owe a debt to laser technology. It has driven change and opened up new markets like few things before it.
As for what the future might hold for the laser industry, certainly where metalwork and fabrication is concerned, a need for even more power may well come. With better beam quality, faster frequencies and ever shorter wavelengths, manufacturers should be in a good position to deliver. Laser cutting machines with ever improving core component performance have been the norm now for several years and that trend will surely continue, in order to meet the challenges, not just of today’s manufacturing industry, but tomorrow’s too…
Laser technology has equally important applications across a wide range of markets and industries and even emerging applications, laser cleaning, medical research, radar and lighting. Think about the beauty industry, three dimensional printing and laser displays…
It all means one thing, laser technology is here to stay and will grow even more accessible and cost effective in the future and certainly for our industry, that’s very welcome news.
Published 9th December 2019