The Difference between FSS and Nd:YAG Laser Systems (Mold Applications)

  1. Full Solid State (FSS)

    1. How: The FSS uses laser diodes to pump a fiber which then creates the laser beam source. This provides quick bursts of energy pulses. These pulses make the mold subjected to less direct heat, which in turn allows the heat to dissipate when the pulsing pauses. 

    2. For Whom: This application is for shops that need to put greater and more frequent needs on the laser machine as well as require optimal precision and tolerance specifications.

    3. Efficiency: The FSS laser reaches efficiency levels of up to 35%. For example, a 300-watt FSS laser system only uses about 1,000 watts of power. This is important for companies because even a 450-watt FSS system can be powered by a standard 220-volt outlet and will not require any special electrical installation. 

    4. Cooling: Diodes power the FSS lasers to a specific wavelength which can be directly translated into laser light producing minimal external ambient heat. A simple small fan can remove any heat coming from an FSS laser system.

    5. Mobility: The FSS only requires a standard 220-volt outlet, a simple small fan for air cooling, and a solid resonator with no mechanical adjustment. This makes it very mobile and has the capability to transport for service trips or for large mold repairs. 

    6. Maintenance: The FSS laser source is completely sealed. There are no mechanical parts that the machine operator needs to adjust. The laser diodes enable around 100,000 hours of continuous usage and run time.  

    7. Cost: The FSS laser system is 20-30% higher than similar Nd:YAG models. This is because when the advantages increase so do the costs.

  1. Neodymium-doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (Nd:YAG)

    1. How: Nd:YAG has a continuous beam controlled by a shutter that opens to create a pulsed laser. A flash lamp powers the laser which is in the range of UV and IR on the light spectrum. The crystals themselves require a wavelength of 808 [nm].

    2. For Whom: For smaller shops and companies with infrequent needs to utilize the laser welding machine and who do not focus on the mobility aspect. 

    3. Efficiency: The energy efficiency level varies from 3 to 4%. This is because of the limited available light spectrum and the need for a water chiller chamber. For example, a 300-watt Nd:YAG system could have a 10 [kW] energy consumption.

    4. Cooling: Since the laser generates a large amount of heat it needs a large external cooling unit to keep the machine at a steady temperature and maintain proper performance. The chiller then takes this excess heat from the machine and exhausts it into the surrounding area increasing the temperature of the shop.

    5. Mobility: The combination of high power consumption and the use of a water chiller make it difficult for the Nd:YAG to be mobile. The alignment of the laser crystal and the two resonator mirrors add to the lack of mobility as well.

    6. Maintenance: The system requires adjustable mirrors, laser crystals, and a flash lamp to create a laser beam. It also needs a water cooler which adds additional moving parts and requires more power consumption. The standard welding shop would go through a lamp every couple of months and a simple toolroom may get a year out of one. The mirrors inside must be adjusted periodically and replaced when the parts get worn. Also, laser crystals do not last forever and are very expensive to replace when they burn out.

    7. Cost: The cost of a Nd:YAG is significantly lower than that of an FSS system. If there is no need for mobility, FSS loses many advantages and this system might be the better-fixed option.         

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