The term laser head is used with completely different meanings:
- It can be a gain module (or laser module, pump chamber), i.e., an assembly containing a mounted gain medium, usually together with other parts for pumping and (often) cooling the medium. For pumping, a laser head can contain arc lamps or flash lamps, laser diodes, or a connection to a fiber-coupled pump source. A complete laser is obtained by placing a laser head in a resonator. Laser heads (without resonators) can often be purchased separately, so that different kinds of laser resonators can be built, depending on the specific demands.
- A laser head may also be an assembly containing the complete optical setup (with the laser resonator), possibly excluding the power supply and fiber-coupled pump diodes.
- In laser-based manufacturing, such as laser cutting, a laser head can be the assembly from which the laser beam exits toward the work piece. A laser cutting head (or other laser processing head) may not contain the laser source, but the focusing optics, a protection glass, and also additional facilities e.g. to direct a gas flow to the cutting zone. The light may enter the laser head via a high power optical fiber cable.
The RP Photonics Buyer's Guide contains 14 suppliers for laser heads. Among them:
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