Abstract

Any reliable automated production system must include process control and monitoring techniques. Two laser processing techniques potentially lending themselves to automation are percussion drilling and cutting. For drilling we investigate the performance of a modification of a nonintrusive optical focus control system we previously developed for laser welding, which exploits the chromatic aberrations of the processing optics to determine focal error. We further developed this focus control system for closed-loop control of laser cutting. We show that an extension of the technique can detect deterioration in cut quality, and we describe practical trials carried out on different materials using both oxygen and nitrogen assist gas. We base our techniques on monitoring the light generated by the process, captured nonintrusively by the effector optics and processed remotely from the workpiece. We describe the relationship between the temporal and the chromatic modulation of the detected light and process quality and show how the information can be used as the basis of a process control system.

© 2002 Optical Society of America

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