What is Direct Diode Laser Technology?

By Al Bohlen, President, Mazak Optonics Corp.

The name explains the process. DDL technology utilizes diodes directly. This is managed through eliminating the doped fiber system used in fiber laser technology.

Which in turn, makes the DDL course more efficient since the middle process is now eliminated. Direct diode lasers are also the smallest and most reliable laser source, all while having an exceptionally high quality beam. 

What is DDL now being introduce as a laser source?

Until recently, DDL has only been available in lower power levels less than 2,000 watts, which has limited its use in a wider range of industrial cutting applications. Today the platform has been developed and expanded to accommodate 8,000+ watts of power. These higher power levels combined with its very unique characteristics including reliability, efficiency and quality have now allowed DDL to be utilized in thicker material applications. While many laser users have embraced solid state laser technology and the benefits from higher cut speeds and lower costs of operation, these users have desired high edge quality that has not yet been possible with fiber and disc technology. 

What are the benefits?

There are three key areas which DDL has made advancements over CO2, fiber and disc laser technology.

First is the overall efficiency of the laser. As you can see from below, Mazak's DDL has improved wall plug efficiency compared to any of the other laser sources. This is because the diodes can be used directly instead of having to go through the doped fiber system.

The second key benefit of DDL technology is the cut speeds. DDL has cut speed advantages typically about 15% faster in all material types and thickness, but it is most notable in aluminum. We are seeing, in come cases, 30% faster cut speeds in aluminum over fiber or disc. 

However, what is most notable is the superior cut quality in all materials over the typical results seen in fiber or disc technology. Due to the DDL wavelength and beam shape characteristics are different than the other laser sources. The DDL characteristics are such that we can provide a more superior edge quality not yet seen on fiber or disc laser all while running at speeds, which in many cases, are faster. DDL have the ability to cut a wide range of material types and thickness, which certainly include a variety of steel compositions, aluminum, stainless steel, etc. In addition, DDL is very capable of cutting Titanium, Hastelloy, Inconel and other exotics quite well. 

What does Mazak Optonics offer for DDL Technology? 

Currently Mazak Optonics Corp. offers two different laser-cutting machines utilizing DDL technology. One is an affordable tube production laser and the other is a high power, high speed, flat sheet laser-cutting system. 

Mazak Optonics started with a prototype of the VCL-T100 at FABTECH Chicago in 2015. This machine gained attention for its unique DDL power source. The VCL- T100 is an affordable tube production laser that is engineered and produced at our sister company's manufacturing campus in Florence, Kentucky. The VCL-T100 is a compact laser-cutting system that has high-end value and performance while maintaining an economical price point. 

Yet the machine that we have seen the greatest impact with is the OPTIPLEX 3015 DDL. This laser-cutting system has changed the game with its impeccable finished parts' edge quality and extraordinary cutting speeds. This machine also has our new cutting-edge PreviewG control and drive system which has integrated tech tables to simplify operation. The OPTIPLEX 3015 DDL incorporates our Intelligent Multi-Control Torch HP-D and Nozzle Changer technology to directly increase the productivity of the end user by allowing the machine to optimize the torch setup automatically per program. This optimization can dramatically improve cut speeds, increase throughput and require less operator intervention, delivering more predictable processing day after day. 

Mazak has made significant investments to develop proprietary DDL technology. We are excited to have this unique advantage exclusive to Mazak. We have established our self as the first to market with DDL and as the leader in DDL development. We will continue to expand its power levels and offering in all ranges of our products.

For more details on the DDL laser-cutting solutions that Mazak Optonics offers, check out the web pages for OPTIPLEX 3015 DDL and the VCL-T100. To learn more about DDL technology check out the study done on direct diode vs. other laser systems used in laser cutting from Industrial Laser Solutions.