Ophir BeamWatch Integrated 500 industrial beam characterisation system measures critical laser parameters in real-time for production environments using long focal length lasers

The Ophir BeamWatch Integrated 500 industrial beam characterisation system from MKS Intstruments is a fully automated, non-contact laser measurement system designed for automotive and battery welding applications that works with single mode lasers using long focal lengths, up to 500mm from focal point to power meter. The system integrates both beam profiling and power measurements into a compact, rugged, self-contained device that measures critical laser parameters in real-time, including focal shift, focus spot size, beam caustic, and absolute power. It can accommodate different types of welding heads as well as a variety of industrial interfaces (PROFINET, Ethernet/IP, and CC-Link) for integration into production networks and automated manufacturing lines to facilitate direct transfer of measurement data.

The BeamWatch Integrated 500 industrial beam characterization system is part of the Ophir BeamWatch family of products, a series of patented, non-contact beam profiling systems that accurately capture and analyze industrial lasers for wavelengths from 980nm - 1080nm and laser powers from 500 W to 10 kW (up to 30 kW, on request). The system provides real-time beam measurements of lasers that are typically too powerful for direct readings, as they would damage the equipment. Instead, BeamWatch systems are the industry’s first to measure Rayleigh Scattering using a pass-through beam 2 measurement technique that involves no contact between the instrument and the beam. Beam parameters measured include focal shift, focus spot width and location, centroid, M2 , divergence, beam parameter product, Rayleigh length, beam tilt angle, and absolute power. Because there is no contact with the beam, there is no wear on the instrument, minimizing the need for maintenance, thereby ensuring high up-time.

“The lasers employed for cutting and welding equipment on production lines are becoming more powerful, but due to time constraints and/or complexity, the quality of the laser beam often goes unchecked,” said Reuven Silverman, General Manager, Ophir Photonics. “As laser process quality is directly related to laser quality, this can lead to large batches of defective parts in highthroughput production lines. The BeamWatch Integrated 500 industrial beam characterization system provides simultaneous, non-contact measurements of multiple profiles along the beam caustic at video rates. This produces data for all key beam parameters in real-time, allowing for the detection of dynamic focal shift and NIST-traceable power readings for long focal length lenses.”

The BeamWatch Integrated 500 industrial beam characterization system monitors high power YAG, fiber, and diode lasers in the 980-1080nm range. It charts all beam measurements over time in industrial material processing applications, such as welding and cutting operations in automotive, heavy equipment, and appliance manufacturing. Fast measurement times allow the laser beam to be checked automatically during the loading / unloading phase, as frequently as once every unit produced. All parameters are displayed and stored. Trend diagrams based on this data deliver useful insights for predictive maintenance, and tolerances and limit values can be set to trigger corrective actions and go/no go decisions. For example, as protective glass becomes dirtier, there is an increase in focus shift; this reduces the power density at the workpiece, resulting in defective welds. The trending function can monitor focus evolution and trigger an alarm should the focal point move beyond the defined limit. The protective glass can then be cleaned or replaced before producing bad parts. This maximizes quality, improves throughput, reduces waste, and lowers costs.