By Mark S. Szorik, Ophir Photonics
Since the late 1950’s, lasers have rapidly evolved from a somewhat simplistic physics laboratory curiosity to a complex, multifunction tool that is a mainstay in many industries and research institutions. Most of us have used laser pointers, played a game of laser tag, or seen lasers used at light shows or concerts. But few people know that lasers are also commonly used for such important applications as communications, navigation, automotive welding and cutting, general industrial, rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing, analytical instruments, aviation and aerospace, military and defense, and medical applications. Lasers have helped science and industry accomplish tasks never previously thought possible. Many of these tasks require ultra-high precision, faster and more efficient cycle times, reproducible results, with overall cost effectiveness, and safety.