Abstract

A major advantage of fiber-optic beam delivery in laser materials processing is the ability to guide the laser power to the location where it is needed, leaving the laser itself remote and protected from the process. This is of special importance if the processing is to be performed in a hazardous environment. Particular problems are faced by the nuclear industry where weld repair and surface treatment work are required inside radioactive installations. By use of fiber beam delivery, only part of the delivery system and effector optics become contaminated, but the expensive laser system does not. However, in many cases the region where repair is required is not only radioactive but has only limited physical access, e.g., inside tubes or into corners, which prevents use of standard effector optics. We present a new design to deal with such constraints of a 2-mm outer diameter employing a hollow waveguide and gas shielding. This design is optically characterized and its performance assessed in welding and surface treatment applications. The potential of this compact effector optics in limited physical access situations is clearly demonstrated.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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