Laser Marking, Laser Cutting

The Expanding Horizon of Ultraviolet Laser Technology in Modern Industries

The Expanding Horizon Of Ultraviolet Laser Technology In Modern Industries | Laserchina

As electronic devices become more ubiquitous and laser applications continue to diversify, the use of ultraviolet (UV) lasers is growing at an impressive rate. UV lasers, particularly those with a beam quality of 355nm, offer the distinct advantage of minimal thermal deformation when used on special materials, making them highly sought after in industries such as PCB (Printed Circuit Board), FPC (Flexible Printed Circuit), electronic paper, plastics, films, glass, and certain special metal materials.

The Hidden Costs of UV Laser Maintenance: A LASERCHINA Case Study

However, several years of usage have uncovered a disconcerting issue—UV lasers require regular maintenance, and some unscrupulous vendors even suggest customers replace their lasers entirely, often at a significant cost. LASERCHINA engineers have encountered cases where clients spent over a hundred thousand RMB within a year for a 10-watt UV laser, and others who spent tens of thousands over two years for maintenance of just a 5-watt laser past its warranty period.

The necessity of UV Laser Maintenance

It is essential to spread awareness about UV lasers and their technical limitations, as currently, there is no perfect solution within the industry. If UV lasers are a must for your operations, be prepared for the inevitable maintenance costs—remember, maintenance, not replacement, is key.

Understanding the UV Laser's Lifespan and Care

UV laser marking and cutting devices, developed using 355nm UV lasers, employ third-order intracavity frequency tripling technology. The focused UV light spot of 355nm is exceptionally small, significantly reducing material thermal deformation and heat impact. UV lasers typically have an effective operational lifespan of 8000 to 12000 hours, which translates to approximately 2-3 years of use—not the 20000 hours theoretical value some manufacturers claim.

A Look Inside the UV Laser Source

The internal structure of a UV laser source reveals why maintenance is required instead of outright replacement. The typical side-pumped UV laser’s V-shaped optical path includes the laser cavity, laser light source, crystal module, acousto-optic Q-switch, and various reflective mirrors. It’s a complex arrangement that doesn’t necessitate a thorough understanding for non-professionals.

The Process of UV Laser Beam Generation

A common side-pumped solid-state laser emits UV light at a wavelength of 355nm. This process begins with the pump light source emitting light absorbed by the laser crystal, which is then converted into fundamental frequency light. This light, after passing through frequency-doubling crystals, becomes doubled in frequency. A mixture of fundamental and doubled frequency light through combination crystals ultimately produces the UV laser light.

Over time, the high-reflective and high-transmissive coatings on the mirror pieces and the limitations of the frequency-doubling and -tripling crystals inevitably lead to markings on the mirrors and crystals, especially under the 355nm wavelength. Continuous use will cause a decrease in laser power.

The Precision of UV Laser Maintenance

Since UV lasers are assembled in ultra-clean rooms, maintenance often involves readjusting the position of the mirrors and crystals to regain sufficient UV energy. This technical service is usually an acceptable cost for customers and does not necessarily require replacing the mirrors and crystals. However, if after several maintenance services, significant traces are left on these components and no suitable position can be found during adjustments, only then is part replacement considered—though it’s a more costly endeavor.

Concluding Advice for UV Laser Users

To reiterate, the normal operational lifespan for a UV laser source is between 8000-12000 hours. The 20000-hour lifespan is merely a theoretical limit. It’s essential for users to understand the practical expectations and maintenance requirements to avoid unnecessary costs and ensure the longevity of their laser equipment.

CONTACT FOR LASER SOLUTIONS

With over two decades of laser expertise and a comprehensive product range encompassing individual components to complete machines, LASERCHINA is your ultimate partner for addressing all your laser-related requirements.

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