June 07, 2015

Fiber lasers are for more than just better death rays, better handling of high strength steel and better 3d printing

Fibre lasers were invented in 1963, and since the 1990s they have been advanced almost entirely by IPG Photonics in Oxford, Massachusetts. Whereas other solid-state lasers use rigid rods, slabs or discs of crystal to generate the beam, and so have to be fairly large, fibre lasers use thin optical fibres that can be wrapped into compact coils.

IPG Photonics is the world's leading provider of high power fiber lasers and fiber amplifiers that are revolutionizing performance and utility in a remarkable array of materials processing, micromachining, telecommunications, medical and other advanced applications.

Fiber lasers are up to 15 times more efficient than conventional lasers.

* In 2009, the Spanger group used mirrors to combine 4 fibre-laser beams into a 5-centimetre spot on a target more than 3 kilometers away
* thee US Office of Naval Research has developed the 30-kW LaWS, which incoherently combines six commercial fibre-lasers. LaWS has been installed on the USS Ponce since September 2014, and has been tested on objects such as small boats and drones.
* In Oct 2012, missile-specialist MBDA Germany in Schrobenhausen successfully used its 40-kW combined fibre-beam system to destroy model artillery shells towed through the air some 2 kilometres away. MBDA's tests have also helped to debunk the science-fiction idea that reflective armour would defend against laser weapons. They found that any dust on the mirrored surface would get burned in, and lead to the destruction of the target even faster than with a non-reflective surface.
* Jason Ellis, a visiting fellow atCNAS and lead author of the think tank's laser-weapons report, is convinced that fibre-laser weapons are coming of age — and that emerging advances could take them to hundreds of kilowatts and extend their range to hundreds of kilometres.

* To shoot a laser-weapon system once is less than $10
* inexpensive missile is $100,000 and that's one shot

IPG has a recent presentation at the 2015 Merrill Lynch Global Technology conference

* FY 2014 sales of $770 million; YOY growth of 19%
* Global operations with over 3,000 employees
* Expanding $4.7 billion opportunity for all lasers
* Approximate average annual growth rate of 6%
* Recognized leader in the rapidly growing fiber laser market
* Estimated 15% CAGR from 2015 to 2019

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