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From Oil Fields to The Surgical Suite

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Laser sintering has proved its worth in industrial applications for making parts too complex for conventional manufacturing processes. Its move into the medical market promises patient-specific titanium implants that can shorten surgery times and hasten recoveries. As Christoph Gayer of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology writes, cutting-edge research is currently underway to make biodegradable patient-specific implants out of fine polymer powder. The polymer requires sophisticated processing to achieve the necessary particle size, viscosity and adhesion. Process parameters must also be in place to protect against thermal degradation of the material. Don’t miss “Laser Sintering Moves Into the Medical Market,” (read article).

The precision that laser sintering brings to the manufacture of medical implants is a quality that lasers bring to their many industrial applications. Two additional stories this month highlight the technology’s vast range and usefulness, particularly on the growing capacities of fiber lasers.

In our cover story, Coherent’s Wolfram Rath and Frank Gaebler write about the use of both CO2 and kilowatt fiber lasers for the heavy metal cutting tasks required by the oil industry. Of particular value are the lasers’ capacity to cut slots in the pipe liners that sieve particulates during well operation. Slab discharge CO2 lasers, the authors write, deliver precision, flexibility and consistency at relatively low cost. The introduction of high-power fiber lasers into the field of slot cutting offers new possibilities for system integration as well as for lowering maintenance and electrical costs. “In the Oil Industry, Lasers Make the Cut” (read article).

Herman Chui and Raj Patel of MKS Spectra-Physics write about the applications of hybrid fiber lasers to the needs of precision micromachining for medical, consumer electronic and automotive manufacturing. Hybrid fiber lasers combine the machining quality of diode-pumped solid-state lasers with the fiber laser’s capacity for pulse tailoring and high repetition rates. In recent years, the authors write, the quality of the lasers has improved to accomplish machining of fine features with precision, consistency, high throughput and low cost. “Hybrid Fiber Lasers Create New Capabilities for Micromachining” (read article).

Elsewhere in this issue

• Johannes Hiltner of MVTec Software GmbH writes about the role of embedded vision in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT). The rise of compact mobile devices, he says, opens the way for a more flexible use of machine vision on the factory floor. Equipped with industrial-grade processors, high-resolution cameras and powerful memories, user-friendly mobile devices can expand the reach of conventional embedded vision systems because they do not have to be permanently installed. “Embedded Vision Finds a Role in the IIoT” (read article).

• For our Picks column, Huyen Vu of Laser Components outlines procedures for cleaning laser optics. Contamination can cause distortion, false data and even destruction of the system. To avoid these pitfalls, don’t miss “Cleaning Your Laser Optics Can Bolster Efficiency and Safety,” (read article).

Enjoy the issue.
Oct 2017
EditorialMarcia Stamell

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