Laser Cutting Development History

(1) The development of laser cutting technology

The United States, Japan, Germany and other developed countries with a good industrial base, pay attention to the technical research of laser processing, is committed to the development of a variety of industrial lasers and research on a variety of laser processing methods and processes, the rapid development of the laser processing industry. In the laser cutting process research, the focus is mainly concentrated in the laser mode, laser output power, focus position and the shape of the nozzle and other issues of research. 1960s, laser technology was invented by the Americans and put into the mechanical production. 1970s and 1980s, the United States, Germany, and Japan and other countries have been in a large number of laser cutting process test system. 1990s, the early part of the foreign countries have introduced a number of high-performance laser cutting technology. Has introduced some high-performance laser cutting system, the system has the function of automatically setting processing parameters. National laser cutting equipment and process development is rapid, now has 100kW of high-power CO2 lasers, kilowatts of high-quality beam Nd: YAG solid-state lasers, some can be equipped with optical fibers for multi-position, long-distance work. Laser processing equipment, high power, high degree of automation, has been widely used CNC control, multi-coordinate linkage, and is equipped with laser power monitoring, automatic focusing, industrial TV display and other auxiliary systems.

(2) China’s laser technology status and future

Compared with the development of foreign countries, China’s laser processing technology research started late, the basic industry is relatively backward, the degree of automation of industrial production is not very high, the market competition awareness is weak, compared with the developed countries there is still a certain gap.
But with the laser in industrial production in the importance of the gradual emergence of our country also pay more attention to the role played by the laser in the field of machining production, and will be included in the laser application of national key scientific and technological projects. After a long period of unremitting efforts have achieved gratifying results, especially in laser cutting, the results are more significant. Domestic enterprises have gradually broken through the core technology of lasers, lasers and core optical devices to achieve large-scale production, the formation of industrial clusters. Laser parts and components supporting enterprises slowly make up for the various types of special laser processing system manufacturers continue to emerge, the current domestic has formed four laser processing equipment manufacturing industry belt, mainly distributed in central China, the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta and Beijing, Tianjin and Bohai Sea economically developed areas.

China’s laser cutting technology development has gone through the following three stages:

① industry exploration period (1957-1961): in 1957, optical scientists such as Wang Daheng in Changchun established China’s first optical professional research institute – Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Optical Precision Instruments (now the Changchun Institute of Optical Precision Machinery and Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, referred to as the “Changchun Institute of Optics and Mechanics”). 1961, Wang Zhijiang of the Changchun Institute of Optics developed China’s first ruby laser. Changchun Optical Machinery of Wang Zhijiang developed China’s first ruby laser.
②Industry start-up period (1961-1978): China’s first CO2 laser was developed in 1965, and in just a few years thereafter, China’s laser technology developed rapidly, and various types of solid, gas, and liquid lasers were successfully developed one after another. In terms of basic research and key technologies, a series of new concepts, new methods and new technologies have been put forward and put into practice, and it is also during this period that lasers began to be gradually applied to the field of material cutting.
③ High-speed development period (1978 to the present): since the reform and opening up, thanks to the state attaches great importance to laser technology, laser technology ushered in unprecedented development opportunities, China has emerged a number of international advanced level results, laser cutting technology basically to achieve the full coverage of the field of material processing in China.

After years of development, China’s laser application technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. However, at present, China’s manufacturing productivity and manufacturing powerhouse there is still a gap, China’s laser technology in the manufacturing industry, especially in the equipment manufacturing industry in the application of a low proportion of only 30% (the United States, Japan, Germany laser technology in the equipment manufacturing industry in the application of the proportion of more than 40%), which is China’s industrial system transformation and upgrading is slow for a reason. With the continuous expansion of China’s laser applications and the application of the depth of the increase, the laser industry potential alternative space is very broad.

In recent years, China’s fiber laser industry is in a rapid growth stage, the degree of localization is rising year by year. China’s laser industry has formed a complete and mature industrial chain of chips, crystals, key components, lasers, laser systems, application development, etc., and domestic laser enterprises also basically have the ability to support global high-end customers. China Laser Industry Development Report 2020, 2019 The development of China’s industrial laser market is beginning to affect the global industrial laser market. On the one hand, increasingly fierce price competition has led to a sharp decline in the price of fiber lasers and ultrafast lasers, while the quality, technology and service of domestic equipment are slowly improving in the competition, and rising domestic laser products are gradually replacing imported laser products. On the other hand, the application of laser technology is more cost-effective than many traditional manufacturing technologies, enabling the rapid popularization of laser applications.

The rapid development of China’s manufacturing industry and the updating and upgrading of traditional craft manufacturing technology have led to the sales of laser cutting complete sets of equipment. The number of fiber lasers applied to laser cutting systems has grown steadily in recent years, and laser cutting equipment is also developing in the direction of high power.In 2019, the demand for laser equipment in various industries continues to increase. The mass production of laser equipment has led to the rapid development of medium-power laser cutting equipment, but it has exacerbated the competitiveness of the products and led to the increasingly low gross profit margin of medium-power cutting equipment, so laser processing manufacturers have begun to move towards high-power band products.In 2019, high-power laser cutting equipment has sprung up in the market, and 12kW, 20kW, 30kW and even 40kW high-power laser cutting machines are also already available.In 2019, about 34,000 medium-power laser cutting systems and 7,000 high-power laser cutting systems were sold in China. The significant increase in power has also increased the difficulty of equipment integration, posing many challenges to upstream accessory manufacturers and system manufacturers. Some core units such as 10,000-watt cutting head, automatic focusing system, intelligent bus system and temperature control system upgraded. In this situation, domestic parts manufacturers and system integrators have never been absent from the road of independent development, have joined the ranks of support.

The state issued a number of policies to vigorously promote the development of intelligent manufacturing, with the aging of the population and the increase in labor costs, the transformation of the manufacturing industry to automation has become an inevitable trend. At present, China’s laser enterprises have basically reached a level similar to that of leading foreign enterprises in terms of comprehensive technology, and have surpassed the level of their foreign counterparts in niche areas. Driven by the huge domestic market, along with the continuous segmentation and deepening of the laser in the field of application, China’s laser enterprises will usher in the next golden period.