-Part I- As market needs become more various, the production of smaller quantities of a wider variety of products becomes increasingly important. In addition, in order to meet demands for more efficient production, long-term unmanned factory operation is prevailing at a remarkable pace. Within this context, laser machines are gaining increasing popularity for use in applications such as cutting and welding metallic and ceramic materials. FANUC supplies four models of $CO_2$ laser oscillators with laser power ranging from 1.5㎾ to 6㎾ on an OEM basis to machine tool builders. However, FANUC has been requested to produce laser oscillators that allow more compact and lower-cost laser machines to be built. To meet such demands, FANUC has developed six models of Slab type YAG laser oscillators with output power ranging from 150W to 2㎾. These oscillators are designed mainly fur cutting and welding sheet metals. The oscillator has an exceptionally superior laser beam quality compared to conventional YAG laser oscillators, thus providing significantly improved machining capability. In addition, the laser beam of the oscillator can be efficiently transmitted through quartz optical fibers, enabling laser machines to be simplified and made more compact. This paper introduces the features of FANUC’s developed Slab type YAG laser oscillators and their applications. - Part II - All-solid-state lasers employing laser diodes (LD) as a source of pumping solid-state laser feature high efficiency, compactness, and high reliability. Thus, they are expected to provide a new generation of processing tools in various fields, especially in automobile and aircraft industries where great hopes are being placed on laser welding technology for steel plates and aluminum materials for which a significant growth in demand is expected. Also, in power plants, it is hoped that reliability and safety will be improved by using the laser welding technology. As in the above, the advent of high-power all-solid-state lasers may not only bring a great technological innovation to existing industry, but also create new industry. This is the background for this project, which has set its sights on the development of high-power, all-solid-state lasers with an average output of over 10㎾, an oscillation efficiency of over 20%, and a laser head volume of below 0.05㎥. FANUC Ltd. is responsible for the research and development of slab type lasers, and TOSHIBA Corp. far rod type lasers. By pumping slab type Nd: YAG crystal and by using quasi-continuous wave (QCW) type LD stacks, FANUC has already obtained an average output power of 1.7㎾, an optical conversion efficiency of 42%, and an electro-optical conversion efficiency of 16%. These conversion efficiencies are the best results the world has ever seen in the field of high-power all-solid-state lasers. TOSHIBA Corp. has also obtained an output power of 1.2㎾, an optical conversion efficiency of 30％, and an electro-optical conversion efficiency of 12%, by pumping the rod type Nd: YAG crystal by continuous wave (CW) type LD stacks. The laser power achieved by TOSHIBA Corp. is also a new world record in the field of rod type all-solid-state lasers. This report provides details of the above results and some information on future development plans.
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