Silicon micromirrors can guide laser beams at extremely high speeds, allowing operators to dose heat input to workpieces with absolute precision. To make them robust enough to be used for laser cutting and welding a Fraunhofer team has managed to develop fast, durable mirrors that are capable of performing challenging cutting and welding tasks.
New laser mirrors now offer greater flexibility in laser processing. Micromirrors etched from silicon are at the heart of the flexible laser system. Experts refer to them as microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). These MEMS mirrors are scanning mirrors whose job is to deflect the laser beam and guide it precisely over the workpiece. Up to now, it has been possible to use these small mirrors only with laser outputs of a few milliwatts. This was enough for head-up displays on car windshields, but not for laser cutting and welding. Higher outputs would have melted the mirrors. Thanks to a new protective coating developed in the cooperative project and a special mounting, the mirrors are now able to withstand even laser powers in the kilowatt range – enough to process aluminum or sheet steel.
Exhibitor: Fraunhofer IWS