Move Beam – X-Stage

Laser System Integration: Move the Beam or the Part?
Or Both


In a 2-axis, X/Y laser system, there are two basic ways to machine a part: move the beam, or move the part. In a 4-axis system you can move both the beam and the part. And in an overhead “decoupled” X-Y stage configuration you can move the beam in the X-axis and the part in the Y-axis. This “gantry” configuration then covers the entire X-Y plane as shown below:




Laserod gantry systems move the beam in X and the part in Y. These are large travel laser systems, having a beam travel over one meter. There are some significant advantages of this decoupled method: 1) the equipment has a 75% smaller footprint, 2) the beam travels in a flatter line, and 3) you don’t suffer so much the galvo trade-off of larger laser spot size for increased beam travel.


For smaller travel laser systems we typically make the laser beam stationary and move the part. In these systems the X and Y stage axes are bolted together (coupled) rather than separated. However, if high beam speed is required, we use a galvo.





In a coupled XY stage the beam is fixed, and either the stage or the beam travel equals one half the stage width. The main advantages of this design are low cost and compact design.  Comparing the coupled to the decoupled, in a decoupled X/Y stage the overhead beam moves in the X direction, and stage or beam travel equal the stage width.  Because of this the footprint savings of a decoupled configuration vis-a-vis coupled is 75 percent, assuming square travel in both cases.


Another method to move the beam is a galvanometer, or galvo for short. Galvos have the primary advantage of speed. This is useful in laser applications such as resistor trimming, marking and patterning. However, most other apps run at slower speeds. Also many laser machining jobs require gas jet assist. Galvos are incompatible with gas assist.




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