NIST PML’s Sources and Detectors Group has launched a new multikilowatt laser power measurement service capability for high-power lasers of the sort used by manufacturers for applications such as cutting and welding metals and by the military for more specialized uses such as defusing unexploded land mines.
Previously, NIST was the only national metrology institute in the world to offer calibrations for laser power and power meters above 1.5 kilowatts (kW). The new service allows NIST to extend its offerings for power levels up to 10 kW. Light focused from a 10 kW laser is more than a million times more intense than sunlight reaching the Earth.
Researchers used the new system recently to calibrate a company’s power meter at 5 kW with an uncertainty of about 1% over two standard deviations, the accuracy and precision threshold necessary for military and advanced manufacturing applications.
Compared to traditional welding methods, laser welding is lower cost and has a smaller environmental footprint. Lasers could potentially be used in 25% of industrial welding applications, which could result in significant savings for U.S. manufacturers.