The performance of a fiber-optic laser beam delivery system strongly depends on the fiber and the optics used to image the fiber face on the workpiece. We have compared off-the-shelf homogenous (BK7) and GRADIUM (axial-gradient) singlets to determine what improvement the GRADIUM offers in practice to the typical laser user. The realized benefit for this application, although significant, is much smaller than would be realized by a conventional imaging application. The figure of merit for laser-based materials processing is the 86% energy-enclosure radius, which is not directly supported by commercial ray-tracing software. Therefore empirical rules of thumb are presented to understand when GRADIUM (or any other well-corrected optics) will yield meaningful improvements to the beam delivery system.
© 1997 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: March 21, 1996
Revised Manuscript: August 19, 1996
Published: May 1, 1997
Boyd V. Hunter and Keng H. Leong, "Improving fiber-optic laser beam delivery by incorporating GRADIUM optics," Appl. Opt. 36, 2763-2769 (1997)