Frequently Asked Questions
Here are general answers to some of our most common inquiries. If you need more specific information regarding your equipment please contact us by phone or email.
How often should I replace the flashlamps on my laser?
The simple answer is that lamps should be replaced when their output has dropped by about 20% since they were new. In practice, most users will gradually increase the Height parameter to maintain constant laser output as the lamps deteriorate. So it is a good idea to note the height setting when new lamps are installed and to monitor it continually and replace the lamps when the height is 20% higher than the initial value. To make this even easier, there is a parameter called “Demand Range” (accessed from the “Shape” button on the control panel) which allows you to adjust the height of all ten pulse shapes at once. If you check section 8.2 of the operator’s manual, it explains this in great detail but you are welcome to contact us for more information if you wish.
Why do my lamp sockets get corroded and burnt?
This is usually a result of water getting into the sockets although it may just be due to extreme old age. The sockets need to be clean and dry to function effectively and there is an O-Ring in the top of each socket which should form a watertight seal with the sleeving on the outside of the lamp lead. If the O-Ring is old, worn or brittle, it will not seal properly and should be replaced. It is a good idea to do this about every 2 or 3 lamp changes as a preventive measure. It is also very important to make sure the lamp sockets are thoroughly dried out when replacing the lamps. Q-tips are ideal for this; start with dry ones to get out most of the water and then follow up with an alcohol soaked Q-tip to absorb any remaining water. To finish, blow dry with some canned air. If there is already evidence of mild corrosion, dip a Q-tip in some anti-corrosive switch contact cleaner (Radio Shack sells this) and give the contacts a good cleaning. If there is really bad corrosion, replace the sockets with new ones (Part number ECCN0001).
Why does my laser “forget” all its stored parameters whenever I turn off the mains supply?
Since the parameters are stored in a RAM chip, backed up by a Lithium battery, most people assume the battery has gone bad but this is almost never the case. The short-term memory backup is from a “Supercapacitor” which stores enough charge for about three days of memory use. After this time, the battery takes over and is good for ten years of storage. In most cases the culprit is the DC power supply mounted inside the Microprocessor Module. This is designed to give a warning to the microprocessor whenever the power is turned off. The microprocessor then saves all parameters to the RAM chip and sets a flag to confirm this. When the power is turned back on, the microprocessor looks for the flag and, if it finds it, assumes normal operation. If the flag is not set, it assumes something is wrong and resets all parameters to default (Safe) values. It sets the shot count alarm to zero, the flow count alarm to 250 and the cooler runtime to 9999. It also sets all pulse shapes to 0% height, 1ms width and 10Hz rate. The cure is to replace the power supply (Part number EAPW0003).
Why does my laser power droop as the laser warms up?
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The efficiency of the laser is a function of temperature, which is why you need an effective cooling system. Usually the laser is cool when first turned on, warms up over the first few minutes and then reaches a stable temperature. If the cooling system is not working properly, it may cause the laser to be too cold when it is not pulsing or too hot when it is, or it may just take too long to reach a stable temperature. All of these are indications of cooling system problems and should be addressed before they cause irreparable damage. If the coolant is too cold, it may lead to condensation on the end faces of the laser rod, which will quickly destroy the coatings. If it is too hot, not only will the laser power drop off but also the beam will diverge more rapidly, which may cause clipping or even damage to the beam delivery components. Ideally there should only be a ten-degree difference in temperature between laser off and laser on states. There should be a flow count of at least 180 and a stable running temperature of not more than 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Where can I get replacement hardware for my laser cabinet?
Laser Electronics can provide you with replacements for any part of your laser, including the panels, fasteners, touch-up paint, caster wheels, plumbing fittings etc. We also have Filters, Deionizer Resin, coolant pumps and Air Blowers If you are not sure what a part is called, email us a photograph and we will give you all the information you need to order it.
How can I tell if my laser is running at its optimum performance level?
The Power Specs chart on our technical bulletins page will help you to decide if you are getting the specified level of power or energy from your laser. Simply put in the suggested parameters, optimize the rear mirror and compare the energy and power with the numbers in the chart.
Are there any upgrades that will allow me to process current parts faster or tackle new jobs?
Converting a standard laser to the “H” version will generally give you a power increase of 40% with no degradation in Beam Quality. This will allow you to achieve greater weld penetration, cut or drill thicker materials or process your current parts up to 40% faster. It is also possible to convert a JK701, JK702 or JK703 laser to any other model in the list by changing a few key components. It may be advantageous to switch back and forth on a regular basis to increase the diversity of jobs that can be done with a single laser. Fiber optic beam deliveries can also be added or removed to increase the scope of operation of your laser. All of these modifications can be carried out at your facility in a matter of hours, even during weekends if necessary to reduce downtime.
Where is the best place to get spare parts for my laser?
Laser Electronics carries a full range of spare parts for your laser. All of them are purchased from the original supplier or are manufactured new in the United States. In most cases they can be shipped overnight from our facility in Tucson Arizona. We invite you to compare our prices, quality and customer service with your current supplier. You can even order parts from our online store at www.laserelectronics.com.
How can I check and adjust the calibration of my power meter?
Independent power meters are available from many sources, including Laser Electronics, and can easily be used to measure the Power of your laser. If you do not wish to purchase a power meter, we have them available for rent. In either case, you can download the instructions from our Technical Bulletins page to check and calibrate your laser’s energy monitor. The whole process takes less than 30 minutes.
What are “Pulse Shapes” and how can I use them effectively?
Most of the lasers have ten storage locations for sets of laser parameters. They are called Pulse Shapes because each one can store up to twenty “Sectors” which define an image of a laser pulse in the form of a Bar Graph. You can define the Height and Width of each Sector and the Repetition Rate of the whole Pulse shape. In this way, you can tailor the way the laser heats and cools your workpiece during each pulse of the laser to achieve any desired metallurgical effect. In many cases, a single sector is sufficient but it is still called a Pulse Shape and each shape can be defined to process a particular job if you so desire. A useful way to use pulse shapes is to define one shape with the “Tuneup” parameters and another with “Calibration” parameters. When controlling the laser from a remote controller such as a CNC, it is often most efficient to manually preload the pulse shapes 1-10 and then call them up as needed by the CNC. Alternatively, the remote device can completely redefine pulse shapes on the fly if it is necessary.
Where can I get my Operators or Maintenance Technicians trained?
Laser Electronics is able to offer a full range of training classes from “Basic Operation and Maintenance” to “Full Service and Repair”. Classes can be tailored to your specific requirements and training materials can be supplied in electronic format if required. Call us for a quote.
How do I connect a PC, PLC or CNC to my laser to control it remotely?
Begin by downloading the Remote Control Guide from our Technical Bulletins page. It will take you through the basics of what can be done and how to do it most effectively. After you have studied the guide, email you questions or specific requirements and we will customize an information package for your application. If you need more hands on assistance, we can come to your facility and carry out the installation for you. 13 What are the benefits of using a Fiber Optic beam delivery? Fiber optics, like anything else, are not suitable for every purpose. Transmitting the laser beam down one or more fibers places restrictions on the laser, which can limit its operating envelope or even, in some cases, reduce its output power. In other cases, fibers will enable the laser to process parts in a much more efficient manner. One of the most useful effects of using fibers is to enable one laser to feed multiple workstations by sharing the laser output between several fibers. This can be done in a sequential (Time share) mode or a simultaneous (Energy share) mode. Another advantage of fiber delivery is that it stabilizes the spot size at the workpiece even when the laser energy is changed by a substantial amount. Finally, in some instances, it is desirable to have the laser situated at a great distance from the workstation, such as when hazardous materials are being processed or when working in a cleanroom where floor space is at a premium. We will be happy to examine your processes to determine if fiber optics will be advantageous to you.