At what point would solid state laser make sense?

specs

#1

Apologies if this has been asked before, but I’ve not seen it discussed anywhere. I know solid state lasers are more expensive, clearly that’s why all hobby grade lasers use tubes.

But… Being innovators in the first degree, I’m sure you’ve looked at solid state lasers as an option at some point, so I’m wondering, considering they would likely have a longer lifetime than a typical gas tube, at what price point/lifetime would using a solid state laser make sense?


#2

Think about how long it’s taken for CO2 lasers to reach the commodity level, and then remember that all of the good solid-state array tech is fairly new and thus seriously patent-protected. And the folks who are doing it probably don’t really want to get into the mid-power easy-to-integrate market.


#3

Solid state lasers have their own complications, and generally have a much shorter wavelength (600nm to 2000 nm versus 10,600 nm for CO2) that interacts with materials very differently. There are shorter wavelength SS lasers, but their output power is relatively low. And I don’t know of any SS devices that operate in the same wavelength range as CO2 lasers.

Trying to operate SS lasers continuously (for cuts) requires a LOT of cooling. Operating them in pulsed mode works well (and can get higher peak power) with more reasonable cooling, but gives you a ragged cut, and frequently doesn’t match the same peak power from pulse to pulse.

Repair/replacement is more complicated in solid state because there are more active parts (pump, crystal, external resonator cavity, coolant jacket, etc.). For this reason, many are sold and replaced as whole units, and are quite expensive.

See also: http://www.troteclaser.com/en-US/Support/FAQs/Pages/Laser-Types.aspx
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_laser_types


#4

There are lots of issues; obvious ones like price-per-watt, and more subtle ones like frequency and beam quality. It’s something we take a keen interest in but will likely not talk about, as we generally take the approach of talking about current products and not future ones.


#5

From the cost analysis I have seen, it would take a high volume production approach to make worthwhile. The solid state would obviously be a higher upfront cost but operation and ongoing cost stand point considerably cheaper.

If you guys can change the game at a price point with the amazing smarts and job intelligence you’re building in, woah!

Maybe a far off comparison, but I’ve started using a drone in my work. I went with 3DR - and the software working in conjunction with the great hardware makes such a huge, HUGE difference.


#6

Thanks for the long view feedback. I know SS emitters are not a near term achievable, but I’m sure when it comes, it will do wonders for size, portability and durability. Enjoying the ride so far! I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with GF. Keep up the great innovation!


#7

Not saying were there yet, but… :wink: