We’ve recently published an article in our newsletter about an increase in demand for our mirror reworking service. This isn’t just idle boasting, it is a result of OEMs dramatically cutting support for installed CO2 lasers, including a big reduction in stocks of spare parts.
This is probably because the bulk of current OEM production is now focused on fiber lasers, therefore support for existing CO2 laser users has been cut. So at LBP we’ve seen a corresponding increase in demand for laser mirror repairs, not just for truly obscure mirrors but for parts that were standard and widely available just 2 or 3 years ago.
We regularly repair, polish and coat a wide range of mirrors, including copper and molybdenum, to a ‘good as new’ condition, saving our customers time and money.
Some of our aerospace and automotive customers insist we offer a RTV (Return To Vendor) repair programme to reduce the overall cost of ownership of laser equipment. It saves time, money and valuable materials, and is well worth doing. The reworked mirrors are as good as new so there is no loss of quality or productivity. It can also contribute to ISO 14001 Environmental Management Here’s a great case study…
One of our customers, a European automotive manufacturer, sent us a collection of used mirrors from their production line that had accumulated minor burns and scratches, and had been swapped out. They were large, complex water cooled beam delivery mirrors which we repolished and recoated to a condition that was as good as new. The mirrors were repaired and returned in under 3 weeks.
The customer was delighted and told us the mirrors were working perfectly, and had saved them $15,000 on the cost of new mirrors!. They have since had them reworked three more times.
Here’s an example of another customer’s mirrors that we reworked to a ‘good as new’ condition. These were from a gas sensing cell made by a company who stopped supporting their equipment. You can find out more on our website.
We regularly make and repair mirrors for CO2 lasers that the Original Equipment Manufacturer has stopped supporting. This can be shortly after purchase if the OEM has ceased trading, or sometimes a cynical ploy by the OEM to force their customers into replacing perfectly serviceable systems before the end of their working life. There is a guide to reworking laser mirrors on our web site
Gas cell repair
It seems laboratory equipment is similarly affected and, we have had a rush in repairing mirrors for multi-pass gas cells used in environmental monitoring or for chemical analysis. We’ve seen that the original mirrors tend to be of very poor quality to begin with. One customer fitting a re-polished and freshly Gold coated mirror was amazed by the huge increase in signal output, so much so that it swamped the detector. For him it turned out to be more of an upgrade than a repair. Here is a nice animation that show the beam path in a “White Cell”
If you have any mirrors that need replacing or repairing and you’re not getting any support from the OEM. talk to us. If you send us as much information as you can about the part including original packaging, specifications and photos, or send us the original parts to inspect and we will let you know if we can help.
It’s been around 3 years since we launched our Laser Mirror Reworking Service and it’s still going strong. We’ve recently compiled a pdf (available to download from our website) to provide more information on the service, how it works and to give some good examples of what we’ve done for our customers.
So if you’ve got some used mirrors in a cupboard or tool box, with the thought that they might just work in an emergency, or because they’re obviously too valuable to throw away, take a look at our pdf for some examples of the parts we have been able to repair. If you think your parts may be repairable, send them to us and we’ll inspect them and let you know. It’s worth a try as you can save significant amounts of both time and money.
So how does the service work? To re-cap, we take customers own lightly damaged mirrors and repair them to a condition that is as good as new. These mirrors are then returned to the customer for their own use. If we don’t think we can repair the mirrors we will tell you and there is no charge.
Trouble awaits anyone not realising that the term “CO₂ laser optics” is mostly understood to refer to optics designed for the common CW (Continuous Wave) CO2 laser types (fast axial flow, slab discharge etc). A customer with a high power TEA pulsed laser using mirrors they sourced form Germany found they completely failed within a few seconds due to the very high laser pulse energies. After waiting several months for the mirrors to be delivered, a few seconds of use was disappointing!
We have recently helped several customers using TEA (Transversely Excited Atmospheric) CO₂ lasers, which are a PULSED CO₂ laser type.
Pulsed Laser Damage
Our Gold coating works with both high power CW and Megawatt pulsed TEA lasers. For this customer we were able to take the used failed mirrors, remove the remains of the ablated dielectric coating, Gold coat them, and return them, taking just a few days.
Interestingly the first true high power TEA CO₂ laser was developed in Baldock, England, just 5 miles away from our factory here in Biggleswade.
Our Gold coated Copper mirrors have been independently certificated as having an LIDT of 46J/cm² in a 80ns pulse. Our competitors products with dielectric coatings were measured at less than 10J/cm2 so quite an advantage