BRilliant Industrial Diode LasEr
Start date: Sep 1, 2012,
End date: Feb 29, 2016
The BRIDLE project seeks to harness the power and efficiency of diode lasers to develop an affordable direct diode laser source for industrial applications requiring the cutting and welding of sheet metal. Specifically, BRIDLE's diode laser will have a power >2kW from a 100um diameter (NA <= 0.15) optical fibre and efficiency >40%. (This is ~2.5x more powerful, 10x brighter and 1.7x more efficient than the best spectral beam combined diode laser and ~30x times brighter than conventional diode lasers.) BRIDLE will focus on technologies suitable for manufacturability and cost scaling. Along with the increased power and brilliance, this will enable direct diode lasers to penetrate the metal processing market.BRIDLE's approach is modular, scalable and forward compatible. It begins with high brilliance mini-bars, whose emitters use intracavity filters to achieve 2-3x higher brilliance (~7W @ 0.8-1.5mm.mrad) than the best broad-area emitters (~7W @ 2.7mm.mrad). Fine and coarse spectral beam combining will further increase the brilliance by 5x and 3x – increasing the total brilliance by 30-40x. Advanced coherent beam combining techniques will also be pursued to develop phase-coupled mini-bars with a nearly diffraction limited output power of 30W, allowing a further >4x improvement in spatial and spectral brilliance.BRIDLE's approach is chosen to be compatible with manufacturability and cost scaling requirements. The cost and complexity of the optical system are reduced by integrating optics inside the mini-bars (e.g. mode filters, DBR gratings for fine wavelength-spacing). Efficient, extremely low vertical divergence structures will lead to low-cost smile-insensitive assembly and low-loss optical coupling. The chosen packaging and beam combining techniques allow simple fabrication and good thermal management.BRIDLE's laser system will be validated for sheet metal cutting. The constituent sub-modules will target additional applications and markets.The objectives of the BRIDLE project are of central importance to the photonics and manufacturing industries in Europe. BRIDLE technologies will enable the European diode laser and laser systems industries to maintain a leading global position. The industrial impact will extend across a wide range of industrial sectors, with European applications of this technology in the automotive, aerospace, manufacturing and materials processing sectors –giving European manufacturers new advantages in an increasingly dynamic and competitive economic climate.Through the exciting new technologies developed in this project, the European laser diode industry will be able to introduce new direct diode lasers into the materials processing markets at a lower cost and with significantly improved performance. European industry and society will be the first to benefit. The BRIDLE project will play a direct and important role in reinforcing economic growth, competitiveness, employment and sustainability.
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