We here at Photonics Media have long believed that photonics technologies can help manufacturers make their products better, faster and cheaper, and this issue of Industrial Photonics nicely illustrates these benefits. Whether they are making beer or gasoline injector nozzles, manufacturers are increasingly turning to photonics to produce high-quality products.
In some cases, as Ryan Bean of StellarNet Inc. reports in his cover story, “Spectroscopy Prospects Brewing,” improving economies of scale in the booming U.S. craft brewing industry are, in part, convincing brewers to use spectrometers in-house for quality control rather than outsourcing that job to laboratories. In other cases, technological advancements are leading manufacturers to photonics. As Daniel Achenbach and Victor Matylitsky of Spectra-Physics Inc. explain in their article, “Femtosecond Lasers: More Micromachining Apps,” (read article), the improved industrial reliability and better pricing of femtosecond lasers are driving automotive manufacturers to replace electric discharge machining (EDM) with this photonics technology for the drilling of gasoline injector nozzles — resulting in more fuel-efficient vehicles.
However, photonics technologies are not only competing with nonphotonics technologies, such as EDM. As Roger Sandwell of LightMachinery Inc. notes in his article, “TEA CO2 Lasers Cut into Excimer Market,” (read article), transversely excited atmosphere carbon dioxide (TEA CO2) lasers can serve as lower-cost alternatives to excimer lasers in the medical device, electronics and printed circuit industries. Klaus Riemer at Chromasens GmbH also shows in “Stereo Inspections: Smaller Parts, 3D Scans,” (read article), how the use of smaller components are paving the way for 3D stereo line cameras to replace traditional 2D inspection methods. And Andrés F. Lasagni, of Fraunhofer IWS and the Technische Universität Dresden, in “DLIP Quickly Changing Surface Functionalization,” (read article), similarly shows how direct laser interference patterning (DLIP) is emerging as an alternative to laser interference lithography (LIL).
Starting with this issue, we will include definitions for key terms in each feature article. These definitions will be added to our Photonics Dictionary — an invaluable resource accessible at www.photonics.com/edu. Another online addition is a video slideshow version of Bean’s feature article on spectroscopic quality control for craft beer, accessible on Photonics Media’s Editorial Videos Channel at www.photonics.com/videogallery.
So I encourage you to sit back and enjoy this issue of Industrial Photonics. And if you’re at home, maybe open a cold one as you read the issue. You may have spectroscopy to thank for the quality of its flavor.
- excimer laser
- A rare-gas halide or rare-gas metal vapor laser emitting in the ultraviolet (126 to 558 nm) that operates on electronic transitions of molecules, up to that point diatomic, whose ground state is essentially repulsive. Excitation may be by E-beam or electric discharge. Lasing gases include ArCl, ArF, KrCl, KrF, XeCl and XeF.
- femtosecond laser
- A type of ultrafast laser that creates a minimal amount of heat-affected zones by having a pulse duration below the picosecond level, making the technology ideal for micromachining, medical device fabrication, scientific research, eye surgery and bioimaging.
- direct laser interference patterning
- Also called DLIP, a high-speed, high-resolution processing technique that uses high-power, pulsed laser systems to directly ablate micro- and nanoperiodic structures with different features on large and geometrically varying surface areas, improving their friction, wear, light management, adhesiveness, biocompatibility and other physical and chemical properties.
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