Increased power and reliability have attracted commercial attention, but high-volume price reductions will steal business.
Detlev Wolft, Jenoptik Laserdiode GmbH
During the last several years, high-power diode lasers based on bars have developed rapidly both in optical output and in lifetime. In only five years, the typical output from a single commercially available diode laser jumped from 20 to 50 W continuous wave (CW), and typical expected lifetimes increased from 1000 to 10,000 h. This amounts to a factor of 25 performance increase for commercially available high-power diode lasers.
The diode laser is starting to become a third tool next to CO2 and solid-state lasers. Its major advantages are its high efficiency, which reduces cooling needs, and its easy power control, because the optical output is strictly proportional to the current.
Many companies are exploring the expanding possibilities of using diode lasers for their processes. We expect that over the next two to three years the price differential between solid-state lasers and diode lasers will greatly increase. We further expect diode laser systems to perform a significant share of industrial work five years from now.