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Alternatives to Fused Silica Laser Debris Shields

November 28, 2018

The costly optical assemblies that allow industrial lasers to weld and slice through metal must be protected from the extreme heat and debris caused by the manufacturing process. Most laser debris shields are made of fused silica, a relatively inexpensive material that provides adequate light transmission and durability.

Fused silica laser debris shields generally come in standard, off-the-shelf sizes with only moderately difficult quality requirements. As a manufacturer of precision optical components that are trusted by industry leaders like Trumpf and Prima/Laserdyne, we not only offer custom fused silica debris shields, but also have exciting, cost-effective alternatives that can reduce laboratory and manufacturing costs over time.

Alternatives to Fused Silica Laser Debris Shields

At the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a multi-program national security laboratory in California, thin (~1-mm thick) disposable BOROFLOAT® debris shields are used in fusion experiments instead of fused silica.. Used in this application, a BOROFLOAT® debris shield can take up to to ten shots before requiring replacement. IRD Glass is an official BOROFLOAT® distributor.

Sapphire, which has the highest strength and heat resistance of any optical window material besides diamond, can also be used as an alternative to fused silica debris shields to reduce the need or frequency of cover lens changes.

Though sapphire laser debris shields are initially more expensive than fused silica, depending on size and quality specification, their greater longevity makes them cost-effective over the long term.

To further encourage this alternative to fused silica laser debris shields, IRD Glass has a Sapphire Stock Window Program.

IRD’s Sapphire Stock Window Program

IRD’s Sapphire Stock Window Program provides faster turn times (same day shipping available) and lower costs at prototype volumes. Our proprietary double-side sapphire polishing process enables cost-competitive solutions.

To increase availability and further reduce costs, we are taking customer input for common sapphire window sizes and specs to add to our Sapphire Stock Window Program, adding a few new part numbers every quarter.

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