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TRW Industrial Laser Demonstrates New Cutting Records



REDONDO BEACH, Calif.---An industrial solid-state laser developed by TRW Inc. has demonstrated cutting capabilities that could open the door to new manufacturing applications and cost savings in the production of aircraft, helicopters, spacecraft, automobiles and heavy equipment.
The DP-23 laser, a three-kilowatt, Nd:YAG diode-pumped solid-state laser, achieved the following results cutting very tough materials in recent laboratory tests:
**The DP-23 cut titanium one-half-inch thick at a rate of 24 inches per minute; one-quarter-inch-thick titanium was cut at a speed of 90 inches per minute. The laser demonstrated the ability to cut material as thick as one inch.
**The DP-23 cut a nickel alloy, Inconel 600, at thicknesses ranging up to 1.5 inches with oxygen assist gas. Material one-inch thick was cut at 2.5 inches per minute using argon assist gas. Narrow-cut widths, or kerfs, were achieved ranging from one-hundredth to three-hundredths of an inch across.
These tests were performed at TRW's Precision Laser Machining (PLM) Application Center, where members are evaluating the benefits of this new, high-brightness laser.
"Current conventional sawing and machining tools experience rapid wear, and that requires manufacturers to discard them after a short time,'' said Len Marabella, TRW, manager of the Precision Laser Machining Consortium.
"This unique laser can cut very tough and thick material continuously at high speeds, opening the door to machining a wide variety of metals economically. We look forward to the continuation of deep-section cutting and deep-penetration welding tests on a wide variety of materials.''
The DP-23 is a product of 10 years of research and development into Nd:YAG diode-pumped solid-state lasers. It is based, in large part, on development work performed by TRW as a part of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's (DARPA) Precision Laser Machining Consortium.
Participants in the PLM Laser Application Center tests include Boeing Co. and General Electric, who worked with TRW engineers to conduct these cutting tests, Caterpillar, United Technology, Penn State Applied Research Lab, University of Michigan, Edison Welding Institute, Utilase and HRL.
"We're really pleased with recent test results,'' said Warren Maher, physicist, Boeing Co. "The data we're gathering indicate this laser has the potential to offer large improvements in laser machining capabilities.''
The PLM Consortium was formed in 1994 to develop a new generation of machine tools, advanced laser systems and laser-assisted manufacturing processes using diode-pumped, solid-state lasers. The objective of the program is to extend the laser's brightness and power to levels needed for advanced industrial applications.
TRW has been engaged in laser research and development since 1961. The company produces solid-state lasers for defense and industrial applications, and designs and develops a variety of high-energy chemical lasers for space, ground and airborne applications, including hydrogen fluoride, deuterium fluoride and chemical oxygen iodine lasers.
TRW Space & Electronics Group builds communications, scientific and defense spacecraft for military, civil and commercial customers; produces, integrates and tests payloads; develops advanced space instruments; and integrates experiments into spacecraft. It is an operating unit of TRW Inc., which provides advanced technology products and services for the global automotive, aerospace and information systems markets.

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TRW Industrial Laser Demonstrates New Cutting Records