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Laser Jailer active laser guarding technology: Details and Applications

An example of the Laser Jailer active laser guarding panels built into a laser safety enclosure. The small laser enclosure is steel and the safety of the laser is maintained by the active laser guarding system.An example of the Laser Jailer active laser guarding panels built into a laser safety enclosure. The small laser enclosure is steel and the safety of the laser is maintained by the active laser guarding system.

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The Laser Jailer Active Laser Guarding System ensures the laser is made safe if its beam is directed at the laser enclosure walls or ceiling.

The fail safe laser guard system is designed to accommodate all laser powers (including multi-kilowatt lasers), all wavelengths and waveforms in the prevention of laser accidents. It is ideal for use with fibre lasers used for material processing.

This lightweight, cost effective system can be installed in virtually any size of enclosure or enclosure - either new-build or retrofit - due to its modular design.

Patents

Active Laser Guard System

Active Laser Guard System US Patent No. 8 416 820
European Patent applied for: EP11188501.8
Australian Patent applied for: 2012202599

Background to the active laser interlock system

Conventional laser cabins have to be robust enough to withstand accidental exposure to the laser - acting as a laser shield.

Passive laser guards have to be robust enough to withstand accidental exposure to the laser for the foreseeable maximum exposure time. Typically they will need to confine a laser beam to between 10s and 10,000s depending on the situation.

High beam power (>1kW) in small beam diameters will cut through steel and even firebricks in a relatively short period of time. For very high beam powers (>5kW), even large beam diameters have the potential to break through concrete. In these circumstances passive guards must be far enough removed from the laser aperture to ensure they can withstand the beams power density. This is not always practical. An active guard allows you to have a much smaller enclosure, as the required containment time is 50ms.

Read more on the Active Laser Guard Overview... (Laser Jailer main page)

Active Laser Protection System: How it works

Each tile (300 x 300mm panel) contains a laser detector which is connected to the Lasermet interlock.

If a high power laser is directed at any of the tiles within the laser cell, a signal is sent to the interlock system to turn the laser off. The signal is sent to the laser in less than 50ms.

The Laser Safety Interlock Controller constantly monitors the system and isolates the laser safety input if the signals it receives are either incorrect or absent, rendering it fail-safe. If an impact is registered the controller again isolates the laser safety input. The active safety system is manually reset once the tile has been replaced.

Active Tiles

Due to the extremely high power of some lasers, the tiles have been designed to be easily replaced once they have been activated.

These sacrificial tiles are a standard size (300 x 300) with additional 150mm x 300mm being available for the extreme internal edges of the enclosure. Customised panel sizes can be provided in cases where the standard panels cannot fit precisely in the laser cell.

Active laser guarding tiles within the laser cell enclosure
Active laser guarding tiles within the laser cell enclosure

Modular Design of High power laser containment- the Lasermet solution

The tiles are mounted on a framework which is first installed in the enclosure. The framework and tiles can be installed on the walls, ceiling and even the floor. However, the tiles are not designed to be walked on or to take heavy loads. Therefore, a suspended floor would be required to take the required weight and the tiles would be mounted under the structure.

Retrofit to existing enclosures or cells: Active Laser Guard Retrofit

Being a modular active laser protection system, the Laser Jailer tiles can be retrofitted to an existing enclosure. Passive laser safety systems cannot contain high power lasers that have a small beam. Options for laser guarding of small diameter laser beams include using thicker steel walls and using larger rooms/enclosures which are heavy and expensive.

The Lasermet active laser safety control system design is lightweight, adaptable, repeatable and maintainable, and uses fail-safe technology.

Cost effective active laser guarding

The laser guard design - using active technology - is cost effective because it can reduce the requirement for some of the strength and weight of some of the surrounding infrastructure.

High power laser protection: In service contract and tile replacement

Lasermet can provide an in-service maintenance contract to replace tiles in the event of an incident. If a tile needs to be replaced due to damage caused by the laser, this can be carried out - in accordance with the contract - by the Lasermet engineering team who will replace the tile with a new one and retest and re-certify that the system is safe to be used.

Applications for active laser guarding

Internal of the enclosure with active detector tiles. The panels are a close fit to ensure that all of the potential laser exit points are covered.Internal of the enclosure with active detector tiles. The panels are a close fit to ensure that all of the potential laser exit points are covered.

The Laser Jailer system is an effective laser containment system ideal for housing laser applications and activities such as laser drilling, laser welding, laser ablation and laser cutting. Industrial applications where the Laser Jailer can be used include the aerospace industry that uses laser machining, laser trimming and the laser repair of turbines. It is also a safety consideration to contain lasers in applications that use laser additive manufacturing of complex parts and additive welding.

Lasers, and the subsequent laser safety equipment and training, are now used in the energy and nuclear industry where they are used for welding pump components for nuclear power plants and are even used for underwater laser welding and under-water laser cutting.

Even in the dismantling of nuclear power plants they can be are used for concrete scabbling and to cut thick concrete slabs.

Laser dangers to be considered

Lasermet's active laser guarding system is designed to prevent death by laser and to prevent injury by laser. This high speed active laser safety control system also prevents destruction by laser, that is, of the surrounding infrastructure. This includes preventing damage from laser beams to the building and its services. The Laser Jailer is much more than a simple beam blocking barrier and, which ever guard system the customer decides upon - either active or passive laser blocking, Lasermet can design and manufacture the complete bespoke laser cabin.

The fast response of the active laser guard system is achieved by sensing the laser impacting on the active laser wall within the laser room. If a stray laser beam impacts on one of the tiles, the interlock will isolate the laser safety input in less than 50ms. The laser will then be turned off - the precise shut-off time being dependent of the laser machine in use.

The Laser Jailer is effective against all laser wavelengths and can be used in material processing, for example, in the automotive industry in applications such as laser welding, and in aerospace and renewables for laser hardening, laser profiling, laser surface cleaning, laser dressing and laser machining.

In the medical and healthcare industries, the machining of parts using lasers can be carried out within and active or passive laser safety enclosures depending on the power of the laser being used.

Would you like to see more?

To see the Laser Jailer Active Laser Guarding System under test with a multi-kW laser, click See Video. This will enable you to see the video presentation of the active laser guard test.

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