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Product Code: JLA_9_3_161

James G. Katter
Jay F. Tu
Mark Gartner

Industrial lasers are high power pieces of equipment that occasionally function under undesirable operating conditions. For example, the performance of a transverse‐flow d.c.‐excited gas laser can be adversely affected by many factors such as electrode arcing, poor lens and mirror cleanliness, focusing problems, improper gas mixture composition, poor gas quality, poor beam stability, poor beam path cleanliness, operator error, poor maintenance, poor chiller water temperature and flow rate stability, and improper laser beam ramp‐in/ramp‐out rates. Many of these factors which occur in the production environment are unpredictable and therefore difficult to simulate in the laboratory or the laser manufacturer's facilities. In this paper, a power distribution model of a transverse flow d.c.‐excited CO2 laser is developed and validated to link the input discharge power to the output laser beam power, as well as the heat losses. This model establishes a foundation for monitoring the laser performance by measuring signals critical to the laser performance such as temperature, pressure, voltage, current, and gas mixture flow rate and quality. The results show that quantitative thresholds can be defined based on the proposed model to detect some impending system faults for preventative maintenance purposes.

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