What is Laser Alignment?

Laser shaft alignment is a form of corrective maintenance. A modern replacement of traditional DTI (clock-gauge) alignment, taking a significantly less amount of time and having greater accuracy, it is the way forward in shaft alignment. A misaligned machine creates a damaging force in particular angles within the rotation, this force causes damage over time to various parts of a machine (coupling, bearings, seals, gears, etc…) Alignment uses a laser and a receiver which measures the lasers displacement upon rotation, giving correction values which can be performed to ensure the machine is then properly aligned and the damaging forces are reduced significantly.

Benefits of Laser Alignment

There are many benefits to why laser alignment is performed:

  • Significantly extends MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) – the average time between failures is increased by laser alignment by reducing the damaging forces which machines are often left subject to. These forces are constantly applied to crucial parts of machinery such as the bearings, coupling, gears and seals.
  • Reduces operational temperatures – operating temperatures are often increased by misalignment forces, this temperature increase can lead to premature failure and unnecessary downtime. Couplings often show the highest increase of temperature due to misalignment, therefore coupling life is significantly longer once correctly aligned.
  • Warranty purposes – when installing a new machine, it is often written in the small print of the warranty information that; if installed and not aligned correctly, the warranty may be void. Even new machines aligned at manufacturers require a new alignment once installed on site.

When is Laser Alignment required?

Laser alignment may be required for numerous reasons:

  • Repaired or overhauled machinery – when reinstalling an overhauled asset, it is key to ensure the machine is correctly aligned so that the repaired unit lasts as long as possible, and that more problems are not generated by re-installation.
  • New or replacement machinery – When even newly supplied units even if supplied as a full unit on a base-plate require to be aligned as the alignment is easily changed when transporting and securing down base-plates. Replacements should also be aligned.
  • Moved machinery – If an asset has been relocated, it is likely that the alignment has been interfered with in the process and this will require a re-alignment on completing the relocation.

Laser Alignment Procedures

In the research setting, over 60% of all laser accidents occur during the alignment process, therefore alignment procedures are very important and should be strictly adhered to. The following is a guide for developing specific alignment procedures for a Class 3B or Class 4 laser system.

  • Only those personnel who have been trained in laser safety should align the laser. It is best to perform alignments with another trained person and exclude all unnecessary personnel during the period of alignment.
  • Review all procedures before attempting the alignment. Make sure that all of the warning signs, lights, and locks are operating.
  • Housekeeping is paramount. The work area and optical table should be free of objects or surfaces that could reflect the light. Remove any watches or jewelry, including objects in shirt pockets, and tape over rings so that they will not serve as reflectors. Make sure that any reflective surfaces in the area are blocked or covered.
  • Wear protective eye wear at all times during the alignment. Make sure that it is appropriate to the wavelength of the laser.
  • Try to use low-power visible lasers for determining the optical path. If this is not possible, try to use another laser (e.g. a low-power HeNe) or even a stabilized laser pointer.
  • Make sure that beam paths are at a safe height (not at eye level when seated or standing).
  • When aligning invisible beams (UV or IR) use phosphor cards or image converter viewers so that the beam can be located.
  • Pulsed lasers are aligned with single pulses if possible.
  • If the laser is Q-switched, turn off the Q-switch and use low power, or CW.
  • Enclose the beam as much as possible.
  • Use beam blocks to block high-power beams at their source (except when the beam is actual needed for alignment).
  • Use beam blocks behind optics (mirrors) if there is a possibility beams might miss the mirrors during alignment.
  • Check for stray reflections before continuing the next part of the alignment process.
  • Make sure all beams and reflections are terminated before high-power operations begin.
  • The use of colored tape on the optical table to indicate the beam path can be very useful.

Why choose Hamdon Industries for your Laser Alignments?

We have an extensive knowledge and enthusiastic drive when it comes to our work, we will always go the extra mile to ensure our service is the best service we can possibly provide. We will always strive to achieve an alignment as close as possible to 0. Hamdon offer tailor-made reporting for every client, every part of the report can be modified to suit your needs and/or requirements, we are proud of our in-depth reports and we are sure you will be happy with our reporting standard. With competitive pricing and an unrivalled quality of service, Hamdon Limited will meet your laser alignment needs.