March 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of Laserdyne and the BeamDirector© family of multi-axis laser systems. Since their introduction, these systems have provided manufacturers with a tool to produce increasingly complex three-dimensional (3D) shaped components by laser cutting, drilling, and welding.
“Over the last three decades, Laserdyne multi-axis systems have played a part in major changes in component design and manufacturing,” reports Terry VanderWert, president of Prima North America, manufacturer of Laserdyne systems. “Laser material processing has given engineers the flexibility to create product designs that are lower cost often with superior performance. Laserdyne technology has affected the design and manufacturing of products vital to a wide variety of industries including aircraft, automobiles, medical devices and turbine engines used in transportation and energy.”
“Just as significantly, Laserdyne technology helped give birth to a number of entrepreneurial companies who have helped expand the use of laser technology”, reported Mr. VanderWert. “Start-up contract manufacturing companies specializing in laser processing or using laser systems for processing formed sheet metal components began by employing Laserdyne systems. Manufacturing jobs in these companies have been created as a result of this new technology - not just in America but globally. This trend continues today.”
For example, Ron Sanders, one of the early Laserdyne employees, started his own laser processing company, Southwestern Laser, Inc. in Tucson, Arizona. Using his knowledge of the Laserdyne products and BeamDirector technology, he pioneered part processing with volumetric accuracy equivalent to that of coordinate measuring machines. A more recent example of a Laserdyne entrepreneur is Quang Tran of TL Precision, Houston, Texas. His company refurbishes gas turbine components using multiple Laserdyne systems.
Helping these entrepreneurs, as well as Fortune 500 companies, to implement laser processing is among Laserdyne’s many accomplishments. Additional accomplishments include the development of the BeamDirector®, now in its fourth generation; the patented Optical Focus Control (OFC), which was highlighted in a May 2004 article in Industrial Laser Solutions; Breakthrough Detection (BTD); and CylPerf programming.
Today Laserdyne is demonstrating developments in control of hole size and creation of shaped holes in both uncoated and TBC coated metal at normal, minor, shallow and compound angles independent of operator judgment. These features have proven beneficial in many designs, but most specifically aero and power generating turbine engines. Today’s engine designs are more fuel efficient, quieter, and are having a positive impact on the global environment thanks to innovations from Laserdyne.
Owing to the durability of their systems, as well as Laserdyne’s commitment to keeping their equipment functional and up to date, Laserdyne reports that a 780 BeamDirector produced 28 years ago is still in use today at a Pratt and Whitney plant.
Meanwhile, today’s 4th generation Laserdyne systems reflect their customers’ changing requirements and the maturing and enabling nature of laser processing technology. This includes complete integration of laser, motion, and process sensing through the Laserdyne S94P control; the use of the advanced Convergent Laser CL50k laser; and now fiber lasers. Process quality, productivity, and integrity are now, more than ever, controlled by the system, not the operator.
“Looking forward to the next 30 years, Laserdyne believes the trend for advanced innovation and increases in productivity will continue,” reports Mr. VanderWert. “Designers, process planners and engineers, through continuous improvement programs, are upgrading their designs and manufacturing operations, which results in them presenting us with new challenges. Our research and engineering, backed by deep technical expertise and by the commitment to innovation and quality that are part of the Prima Group culture, ensure that Laserdyne will meet these industry demands and continue at the forefront of multi-axis industrial laser technology.”