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IPG is The World’s Largest Fiber Laser Manufacturer

Rajesh Sharma
Rajesh Sharma (GM – INDIA), IPG Photonics

IPG products are known for quality world over and IPG India has been working closely with the Indian machine manufacturers and Integrators in providing them with Application support and special prices for IPG products to make them competitive with the Chinese products. Tabling with BIS Infotech’s, Consultant Editor, Niloy Banerjee – Rajesh Sharma (GM – INDIA), IPG Photonics protracted across the Fiber Laser business and how their Laser Marking and Welding solutions took a row in the Indian market. Edited nub.

  1. Having a major traction in the Indian Market, How has IPG Photonics evolved in the market?

 IPG Photonics Corporation, founded in 1990 at Oxford, MA; is the world leader in manufacturing of fiber lasers, amplifiers and beam delivery products. IPG Photonics developed and commercialized optical fiber lasers, which are used in a variety of applications including materials processing, railways, medical applications, telecommunications, R&D. IPG was founded in 1990 in Russia by physicist Dr. Valentin  Gapontsev, a pioneer in the field of fiber lasers and recipient of various awards for his outstanding contribution to the Fiber Laser industry. IPG’s manufacturing facilities are located in USA, Germany, Russia and Italy with a strong supply chain network to cater to the demands of OEMs across more than 22 countries.

IPG Photonics (India) Pvt. Ltd is a 100% subsidiary of the IPG Group. IPG India started its operations in the year 2001 and is today, a leading supplier of Fiber Lasers solutions to the Indian Industry for a wide range of applications. IPG India is headquartered in Bengaluru and has a state of art application laboratory at Greater Noida with regional sales and service offices in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Greater Noida.

IPG_India (herein referred as IPG_IN) started its journey back then by selling of telecom moldules, Erbium doped Fiber Amplifiers and some industrial systems. IPG’s complete system for Laser Marking and Welding was introduced to the Indian market in the period between 2005 – 2016 along with selling of Fiber Laser sources. In 2016, addressing the need of Indian market and gauging the pulse of it, IPG_IN business was restructured and we started selling only Fiber Laser sources to our OEMs. This entire Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) facilitated IPG_IN to penetrate deep into the market even more and gain an unparallel lead against its competitors. The BPR enacted helped to increase our revenues manifold and strengthen our profitability over time. A Brand Facelift was also given during this period in terms of promoting the company in events and exhibitions wherein the focus of the company to the niche segments was leveraged.

  1. What key solutions are of your major attraction today in the indigenous market?

 IPG Photonics has always been the precedence when it comes to choosing the right Fiber Laser sources for systems, be it OEMs or end users. IPG_IN is committed to enlighten its users and OEMs and facilitate them in making the right kind of choice they make while choosing such sources in terms of specifications and suitability to their applications. Our wide range of Fiber Laser sources gives ample choice to OEMs and end users to pick and choose what is right for them. Our team is deeply engaged in aiding them for this. Our Laser sources are classified into the following verticals:

  • Low Power CW Fiber Lasers: Operating Range 1 – 100 W output power
  • Mid Power CW Fiber Lasers: Operating Range 100 – 2.5 kW average output power
  • High Power CW Fiber Lasers: Operating Range – Single Mode (SM) upto 20 kW, Multi
    Mode (MM) up to 500 kW
  • Quasi CW Fiber Lasers: A Proprietary IPG product – Operating Range 75 W – 2.3 kW with
    Maximum Power=10 times that of Average Power
  • Nanosecond Pulsed Fiber Lasers: Operating range – Peak Power 10 kW – 1 MW
  • Pico and Femtosecond Fiber Lasers: Operating Range 1 – 100 W

(Precision for Micromachining Applications)

  • Mid IR Hybrid Lasers (Medical, Sensing, Imaging and such kind of applications)
  • CW Fiber Amplifiers
  • Diode Laser Sytems

In addition to the above Laser sources, we do also provide Beam Delivery Products which will catapult to building precision and efficiency in the process flow. These segment of products include:

  • Process Heads
  • Welding Head
  • Cutting Head
  • Micro Cutting Head
  • Welding Head with Wobbler
  • Seam Stepper
  • Dual Spot Module
  • Beam Shaper Module
  • Seam Finder
  • Wire Feeder Module
  • Scanning Heads
  • Beam Switches
  • Collimators 
  1. Notched with a considerable growth by 2021, manufacturing applications are seen as the major drivers. How are you looking into this segment and what offerings do you have to cater the demand?

 With Laser cutting and welding machines becoming a fast moving items in the industry due to the entry of so many suppliers from India, China and rest of the world, the focus in now shifting to other applications that can be served by Lasers. IPG has been carrying out research in various filed of application field with connection to Lasers.

The broad classification can be as follows:

  • Material Processing: Lasers are the most versatile and flexible sources for material processing. Fiber Lasers offer the ultimate in solid state reliability and convenience. The advantages of high power fiber lasers over both conventional processing and processing with other laser types have made them the preferred choice for cutting, drilling, welding, brazing, soldering, marking, engraving, cladding, sintering and surface treatment.
  • Micro Machining: Microprocessing is an expanding market for laser sources both displacing non-laser processes and opening new applications. Laser micromachining technologies have revolutionized manufacturing in microelectronics, semiconductor, photovoltaics, LED, medical device fabrication and many other industries. With the ability to create micro features with high precision and repeatability in virtually any material, lasers have found wide use in micro processing applications.
  • Telecommunications: IPG is the world’s leading provider of high performance, high reliability optical amplification and transport solutions. IPG’s broad technology portfolio includes high power erbium-doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs) and Raman pump lasers. Our years of design and engineering experience supplying the full length of the value chain- from rugged, high performance modules for OEM applications to field ready rack mountable solutions for optical network, telemetry and free space optics applications. Rack mountable systems include single and multiport EDFAs, single and dual wavelength Raman pump lasers and ultra long haul DWDM transport systems
  • Advanced & Scientific: From atom trapping to LIDAR, from atmospheric wind measurements to entertainment and projection, IPG breaks down technical barriers to provide revolutionary laser solutions. The growing number of advanced applications using IPG lasers and amplifiers include spectroscopy and bioimaging, optical trapping, remote sensing, lidar/obstacle warning, metrology and materials characterization, interferometry, holography, photonic Doppler velocimetry and many others.
  • Medical: Lasers are widely used for medical procedures: diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical, including ophthalmic, dental and cosmetic. IPG offers many different types of lasers for incorporation and integration into medical instruments like diode lasers, fiber lasers (CW and Pulsed), Raman lasers (VIS and IR) and Mid-IR hybrid lasers
  • Laser Application Centre: IPG has numerous Application centres worldwide where tests are done regarding the application of Lasers in fields as mentioned above. In India, we have opened an application lab in north in Greater Noida which is equipped with 3D & 2D Welding, marking and engraving capabilities and we also have a plan to expand this facility to our Ahmedabad office in coming years.
  1. What are the major advancements in Sheet Metal Market and what is IPG Photonics Prudence.

 Reports suggest that the global sheet metal market is expected to post a CAGR of over 4% during the period 2018-2022. The report also suggests that one of the major drivers for this market is the growth in machine tools market. Increase in the automotive production, switching to electric vehicles and growth in renewable power projects are some of the factors driving growth of the machine tools market which in turn will fuel the growth of sheet metal market for the next five years. The establishment of manufacturing facilities will also increase the demand for machine tools thereby contributing to sheet metal market growth. Sheet metal vendors are also equally interested in adopting new technologies and incorporating them in their production line in order to increase speed of work and reduce production time.3D technology is new buzzword for investors and business houses. The use of such technology is automotive and aerospace industries is also a playing a pivotal role in escalating the demand in sheet metal market.

In view of the above demand generators and rising potential, IPG is also providing equally immersive solutions to OEMs and end users in order to bring efficient and cost effective systems into play with an eye on optimizing the cost. Our indigenous products like Seam Stepper and Finder, is one of its kind which is used predominantly is automobile and aerospace industries for producing superior quality weld finish. IPG’s new 2 kW YLR lasers is a progressive thought of IPG’s knowhow which is giving end users the same experience as was its YLS model but with a much needed compactness and thus reduced costs. 

  1. What major trends do you see in the Laser Additive Market?

Additive Manufacturing, which started as a rapid prototyping facility is growing and gaining attention. From plastics, the shift is now towards metals and success has been achieved specially in the fields like Medical, Aerospace etc.  Efforts are being taken for industrialisation of additive manufacturing process and to bring acceptability in terms of cost, quality and the finish achieved. Companies are working closely now to find solutions to problems which are hindering the industrialisation of the process – processing speed, quality, finish and the cost being important ones. Availability of the metal powders is also an area of concern.

Companies are now able to look into the advantages being provided by the additive manufacturing and are looking towards solutions by which their components can be processed through additive manufacturing even partially, if not fully.

  1. IPG Photonics strategies complementing the current market scenario?

 The Indian manufacturing sector has been growing at a stable pace. The government has a special focus on the manufacturing sector and has been trying to develop the sector with developmental plans and special initiatives like the “Make in India” program. The Indian manufacturing industry is also facing a fierce competition from China. Quality and cost are the major factors which are controlling the market. IPG products are known for quality world over and IPG India has been working closely with the Indian machine manufacturers and Integrators in providing them with Application support and special prices for IPG products to make them competitive with the Chinese products. 

  1. What keeps IPG Photonics ahead of their competitors in this bullish market?

 IPG is the world’s largest Fiber laser manufacturer. We design and manufacture all key components, from our active and passive fibers, highest quality seed and pump diodes, active fiber blocks and modular resonators, pump couplers, combiners, acousto-optical modulators, fiber volume Bragg gratings, nonlinear and active crystals, various micro and bulk optics, power supplies and controllers responsible for the lasers’ performance, delivery cables, the processing delivery heads, beam switches and water chillers directly responsible for our customers’ enriched experience. Through our complete control over the quality, performance and cost of critical components, IPG is able to deliver laser solutions consistently exceeding our customers’ expectations.

IPG fiber lasers are preferred for their uniquely extensive suite of compelling advantages over legacy laser technologies. The elegant simplicity of fiber lasers provides exceptionally compact, highly versatile and user friendly functionality whose efficiency, beam quality and cost of ownership is unrivalled. As a long-time OEM supplier, IPG is intimately familiar with the understandably unforgiving standards expected of component and subsystem vendors. We know that our customers depend on our lasers and amplifiers to operate without failure in mission-critical and safety-critical applications. Our confidence that our lasers and amplifiers will meet these expectations is based on the empirical comfort that comes with the most rigorous testing and quality control standards. Our key components are tested or burned-in for hundreds of hours, and in the end, we only use the best components that have passed our stringent control standards. IPG Photonics is certified ISO 9001, giving our customers the assurance that our business processes are both well-documented and conform to the same standards of quality upheld by most of the world’s largest and most highly-regarded companies. Beyond the words stands our bottom-line commitment to quality: the best warranty in the industry.

IPG’s unique technology platform allows our products to have higher output powers and superior beam quality at a lower cost than can be achieved by any other competing technology. 

  1. Can you a bit elaborate on your pristine product, “LaserCube” and its specs? 

IPG’s LaserCube flatbed cutter is optimized for cutting small parts. Using high-force linear motors built on a granite stage, it has the stability and acceleration needed for high-speed precision machining. Utilizing IPG’s fiber lasers and cutting head technology, the LaserCube is inherently reliable with low operating and part-processing costs. The LaserCube is the ideal cutting tool for metals, including mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass and exotic alloys. Being right-sized for smaller parts, prototypes and smaller parts, prototypes and smaller production runs, the LaserCube provides the most cost-effective capacity addition and lowest cost of ownership of any professional laser cutter. The LaserCube is truly a general-purpose laser cutting system: high-velocity stages and high CW power lasers provide the fast cutting of carbon steel parts and reflective metals such as copper, brass and aluminium. System Control is the key to flexibility. Stored process parameters allow precise setting and automatic adjustment of laser power based on changes in cutting head velocity for complex contoured parts. The system has computerized control of two process gasses, with automatic monitoring of cutting head conditions. With many alloys or higher-value metals only available in smaller-size sheets, the 48 inch (1225 mm) cutting bed of the LaserCube is optimally sized for economic material processing. Available in many different power configurations, you can buy exactly the power you need. For more details about this product, please refer to our website: www.ipgphotonics.com/en .

The important fact worth mentioning over here is that this is a system which we are not selling in India. This has been built to serve as a prototype for Indian OEMs who want to upgrade their machine designs to international standards.

  1. How can one ensure a good cut quality and also what are the approaches to improve cut quality of sheet metals?

The Laser cut quality depends upon a number of parameters. The following can be considered as basic parameters:

  • Material – The Mechanical properties, thermal properties and the alloying elements have an effect on the quality. The sheet surface and the presence of external elements like paint, scales, rust etc. also affect the cut quality
  • Laser – The Laser Beam quality, the beam guidance and delivery (Optics)
  • Process Parameters – Mode of operation, Laser power and Intensity, Cutting Speed and federate, focal length of lens, wavelength of Laser beam, beam mode, Nozzle side, its standoff distance and physical condition, Gas type, gas purity and pressure
  • User/Operator – Knowledge and skill, Training
  • Environment – Temperature, Humidity and dust

The optimum mixture of the above parameters enables us to get a good final cut. Changes in the parameters govern the finished product parameters like surface roughness, HAZ and kerf width. IPG India works in close coordination with our customers, Integrators and machine manufacturers to fine tune these parameters and help them get the best cutting results from the Laser source. Our Application labs also help them to achieve the parameters for different materials. 

  1. Lastly, what are the major trends you foresee shaping the photonics market? 

Reports suggest that the photonics market was valued at USD 590.35 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach a value of USD 928.51 billion by 2023. The CAGR depicts of 7.84% over the forecast period (2018 – 2023). Research reports also suggest that in 2017 the worldwide sale of Laser systems was valued at EURO 15 billion. The growth over the past two decades has been at a healthy rate of 9% on an average, which is twice that of the machine tool industry.

The future trend in this segment is being shaped by the demand of Ultrashort pulse technology, Additive manufacturing and electric mobility. Manufacturers are keeping a close eye as the demand for Ultrashort Pulse lasers is gaining importance in industries like electronics, medical technology, automotive industries. The Additive manufacturing market is also showing demand spikes as 3D printing processes are rapidly moving towards serial production, which is escalating the demand. The other segment apart from the above, which will facilitate the growth of the industry, is the electrical mobility market. The demand and hence the production of prismatic batteries are on the rise wherein many of the stages of production are being executed, controlled and in fact in some cases possible only by Lasers. With the advent of the concept of electric engines, the trend is witnessing a change from traditional winding to laser welded hairpins, for which lasers are playing a prominent role and manufacturers are putting them to good use. The laser industry is opening doors to new markets, which would suggest continued growth in the coming years.

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