SPIE Photonics West 2020

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01 February 2020 to 06 February 2020
San Francisco, USA

Beaming bright in San Francisco

The annual US photonics show will have plenty on offer for industrial laser users from 1 to 6 February

Some 22,000 attendees and 1,400 exhibitors will once again be descending on the Moscone Center in San Francisco in February to get their annual fill of the most recent developments in photonics.

Those looking to learn about the latest research in materials processing need look no further than the Lase 2020 conference track, where experts will be presenting on everything from the laser sources themselves to the many types of application they are used in – both on the micro and macro scale.

In the field of surface treatment, for example, speakers from the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in the UK will be discussing their work on using ultrashort-pulse lasers to machine hard tool materials such as tungsten carbide. They have been analysing how the process parameters of micromachining with a picosecond laser influence geometric precision and surface quality in tool manufacture. While they are currently able to achieve an ablation rate of around 45mm3 using a 300W picosecond laser, they report that the issue of edge wall taper still remains. 

Also on the topic of surface treatment, experts from the French technology centre Alphanov will be sharing how they plan to upscale laser polishing to large 3D surfaces. They expect this to be of particular interest to those generating parts via additive manufacturing in the aerospace industry. Using a 10kW fibre laser with a spot size between 1 and 2mm, the researchers intend to improve polishing times from 20-60s/cm2 to 5-10s/cm2, and will conduct tests on three different types of metal.

For those interested in welding, this year a number of talks will focus on the joining of dissimilar materials, as well copper-to-copper welding – both of which have presented numerous challenges in recent years.

Speakers from Trumpf, for example, will be presenting welding strategies for joining aluminium to copper using fast-oscillating, high-quality, single-mode laser beams. Such techniques are important as joining materials with dissimilar metallurgical properties is still proving to be a challenge in modern battery cell production and e-mobility. The experts will report on their success in achieving mechanical stability in a micro structured manner, minimising the created intermetallic phase zone between the copper and aluminium. Other experts from Trumpf will be discussing their success in using a new 2kW green CW laser for copper welding. In a spatter-free process they have succeeded in producing copper weld spots and seams with unprecedented reproducibility in diameter and welding depth. Such welds will also be crucial for processing electronic components for e-mobility. 

The joining of aluminium and steel parts will also be discussed at Lase 2020 – a capability particularly sought after in the transportation sector for producing lightweight structures. This is still presenting challenges, however, due to the large difference in the melting points of aluminium and iron, plus the rapid formation of fragile intermetallic compounds. Researchers from the University of Nantes in France will be presenting their solution to address this issue. They first use a powder additive manufacturing process called cold spraying to deposit a thick layer of aluminium onto the steel part. They are then able to join the aluminium part to the aluminium layer via conventional laser welding.

All this and much more will be awaiting material processing enthusiasts at Photonics West this year.


Focuslight Technologies

Focuslight Technologies will be presenting its FL-VS300 series of semiconductor lasers at booth 1855.

These lasers are high-power, high-reliability, low-smile-effect laser bars based on micro channel cooling (MCC). Designed for volume production, they feature a laser bar bonded on MCC with AuSn (gold-tin) solder, which results in a low smile. A 1cm bar with less than a 1µm smile can deliver more than 200W continuous wave (CW) output, with a power conversion efficiency of 65 per cent and a lifetime of more than 20,000 hours. Power can be scaled to a few kilowatts in CW mode using vertical stacks. 

These high-power and low-smile vertically stacked laser diode bars are ideal for demanding applications such as forming a wider line for glass surface treatment, or a rectangular beam for cladding.

Laser Components

At booth 449 Laser Components will be showcasing examples of its optics that have been laser marked with their respective part and batch numbers.

Traceability and consistent quality of precision optical components are of utmost importance, whether they are being integrated into a product or manufacturing equipment. Every coating run carried out by Laser Components undergoes spectral characterisation on one of the firm’s in-house spectrometers. All its optics are delivered with product codes and batch numbers along with copies of the spectral trace, with all witness samples being retained at Laser Components for 10 years after coating for quality control and traceability purposes. 

Upon customer request, the firm’s optics can be laser marked in house with part and batch numbers on the edge. If required, Laser Components can also mark the parts with a customer’s company name and a specific part code.


On booth 4480 Luxinar will be exhibiting its first ever femtosecond laser, the LXR 100, meaning the firm now offers ultrashort pulse lasers in addition to sealed CO2 laser sources. 

The LXR 100 is capable of a large dynamic range of average powers, pulse energies and operating modes, enabling process optimisation in a wide range of industries and applications. The pulse width is between 900 ± 100fs, with a pulse repetition frequency between single shot and 40MHz, and a maximum rated pulse energy of 100µJ. Burst mode and pulse on demand are also available.

MRC Systems

MRC Systems will be at booth 3004 presenting its range of very accurate systems for the pointing stabilisation of laser beams against motion, thermal drift, vibrations, and other sources of beam fluctuations. The systems can be easily integrated into almost any laser setup, and can be used with all kinds of lasers, including ultrafast lasers for both research and production. 

The laser beam stabilisation systems combine a real-time closed-loop controller with high-resolution position detectors and fast and accurate piezo-driven mirror actuators. The systems are very user-friendly and do not need any user interactions. They are very compact and robust and enable a reliable performance in 24/7 applications.

The systems allow a beam pointing accuracy of better than 1μm not only in short-term operation, but also – due to measures against thermal effects – long periods of time. The standard systems work with mirror sizes of 0.5 to 2 inches, but also support set-ups with 3- or 4-inch mirrors.




One of the many products on show at Ophir’s booth (927) will be the LBS-300HP-NIR beam splitter, a compact device that enables camera-based beam profiling for high-power material processing lasers.

It delivers high-power density attenuation, up to 15MW/cm at 5kW, reflecting less than 0.0001 per cent of the incident NIR beam while transmitting 99.9999 per cent. This enables measurement of beam shape, focal spot, beam waist, and overall power. The LBS-300HP-NIR beam splitter measures NIR laser powers from 100mW to 5kW with uniform attenuation of any beam shape, from Gaussian to flat-top to doughnut. It is ideal for online beam profiling in a variety of Nd:YAG applications in industrial materials processing and R&D.





Scanlab will be exhibiting its FiberSYS scan head for metal additive manufacturing at booth 1849. The all-in-one scan solution can be used by both new and experienced system manufacturers to create high-efficiency laser systems and scalable machine designs with ease. The compact scan system optimises machine assembly times for integrators and fabrication times for users.

FiberSYS is configured for control via an RTC board, and for the deflection of multi-kilowatt single-mode fibre lasers. The sealed, dust-proof scan head features a fibre adapter for direct connection of the laser, as well as a process monitoring interface. Ultra-low-drift galvos with digital encoders are regulated via the newest generation of servo electronics. In combination with its optimally designed mirrors, the system delivers exceptional imaging quality and high dynamic performance.


Toptica Photonics

Toptica Photonics will be at booth 3209 presenting its newest femtosecond fibre laser – the FemtoFiber vario 1030. This versatile micro-joule fibre laser is ideally suited for micromachining and other materials processing applications. 

With a central wavelength of 1,030nm, the laser offers 2W of output power at a repetition rate up to 1MHz and a pulse duration of less than 300fs. The special features of this laser include variable pulse duration via GDD control, adjustable repetition rate down to pulse-on-demand, and superior temporal and spatial beam quality.