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Thread: New laser....but what is it?

  1. #1

    Default New laser....but what is it?

    Hi guys,

    I just got a Coherent Versapulse laser, made in 1998. I know little to nothing about this laser but figure it might have some neat bits inside :-)

    Based on the warning sticker, it seems to have 3 outputs of 532nm, 755nm and 1064nm.

    The actual label says:

    Nd:Yag 1064nm 800mJ MAX 8ns pulse
    Nd:YAG 532nm 400mJ MAX 7ns pulse
    ALEXANDRITE 755nm 1000mJ MAX 70ns pulse
    Nd:YAG 532nm 3000mJ MAX 10ms pulse

    So is this a flashlamp pumped laser? It weighs about 200lbs, but probably a lot of that is the typical isollation transformer I am guessing.

    Also it has a neat little separate solid state chiller:

    Pic of the warning label:

    Pic of the laser:

    Pic of the chiller:

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Charleston, SC


    Yep - it's actually 3 lasers in one. It's a flashlamp pumped, q-switched Yag that makes 1064nm IR. It's also a flashlamp pumped, q-switched, frequency-doubled laser that makes 532 nm green. Finally, it's a flashlamp-pumped, q-switched Alexandrite laser that makes 755 nm IR. (There is also a 4th mode that makes 532 nm light without the q-switch, so you get longer pulses.)

    The cooling system is there to get rid of all the waste heat produced by the flashlamps.

    They use these things for removing tattos, as well as getting rid of varicose veins and other skin blemishes and pigment problems.

    You can probably set things on fire with it, but beyond that I don't know what you'd use it for. The only visible output is 532 nm, and even that is not CW. All the operational modes are pulsed on that thing.

    Google around for "Coherent Versapulse Laser" and you'll find more info about it. Mostly they're found in dermatology clinics.

    How much did you pay for it? (Just curious...)


    PS: Just read in another post that you're building an engraver. OK - cool. This thing will be useful then. Not sure if the power level is going to be high enough for all the materials you're thinking about, but the nice thing is that you can select one of the three wavelengths to match the output of the laser to the absorbtion characteristics of whatever you want to engrave.

  3. #3


    It was free, so you can't beat the price

    A little dissapointed that all the lasers are flashlamp pumped. Was rather hoping the one that has the longer pulse length (which they claim is variable from 2 to 10ms) was diode pumped since the unit was made in 1998 (fairly new). I wonder how they get a variable length pulse from a flashlamp pumped frequency doubled laser....when I take a hammer and screwdriver to this beast we shall see! :twisted:

    I don't think this will be of much use for engraving...the rep rate would be too low. You might be able to use it to micromachine very small pinholes or something. Maybe could have some use in holography???

    Maybe the frequency doubling optics are usefull for some other project? Who knows...

    For engraving, I am going to use a Synrad 48-5-28W that I doing 64 watts!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Charleston, SC


    From the litte bit of googling I did, I could not find any indication that there is a pump diode in there - only flashlamps. (It also explains why they need a water chiller... I doubt you'd need that if it was diode pumped.) But I agree that pulling the cover and looking under the hood is a good idea. (Never know what other goodies you might find...)

    Not sure about how useful (or not) it would actually be for engraving. I guess it depends on what you want to engrave. I agree that your Synrad laser will be much better though. (Pretty cool that you're getting 60+ watts of of that thing!)

    Still, I would thing that at the very least you could do wood burning effects with the Versapulse unit. (After all, this thing was designed to zap out pigment from the skin...) I agree that you may need to increase the rep. rate, but that will probably involve some modifications to the safety interlocks! 8)

    As for holography - eh... I'm wondering what the q-switch does to the output quality. Probably not good things. You'd also probably want to get rid of that articulated arm (and all the associated optics).

    So you got this thing for FREE? You've done well - even if it ends up being nothing more than a curiousity. Heck, you might be able to sell it to a medical surplus dealer at some point in the future, once you get tired of playing with it.

  5. #5


    I managed to get into the guts of the unit nondestructively. It turns out there is a pressure switch at the bottom of the front of the unit which allows it to swing out revealing all the hidden screws. You can see the quite simple motherboard in this picture of the front: :-)

    Next I was able to remove the optical arm by pressing another pressure switch (love those coherent engineers):

    Now we simply must remove the imposing black box covering the optics bench...omg you can't imagine the complexity:

    another view:

    and another:

    A veiw of one of the laser heads, dated 8/30/2005 !!

    There are at least 3 stories of optics and servo motors and galvos all over the place. The thing is so beautifull it makes me want to replace the black cover, put my hands in my pockets and meekly walk away!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Charleston, SC



    You're right, that optical path is quite complex. Interestingly, however, I can't seem to locate the main optical cavity where the YAG crystal is... (And thus, the flashlamps...) Furthermore, I don't see any signs of the plumbing that must be present to cool the thing...

    Is there yet more optical components that are perhaps buried beneath the 3 levels of optics that you can already see?

    Either way there's no doubt that a *lot* of work went into making that thing.


  7. #7


    The yag and alexandrite crystals are in these 3 bricks:

    I didn't take off both lower side panels, but peeking into one shows a fairly large coolant pump motor like you see in the arc lamp pumped yags and one or more HV supplies in a gold annodized aluminum housing perhaps 24" by 14" by 6".

    I am guessing there may be a nice pockels cell in this beast? Also...I wonder what they use for the ultra high power frequency doubling crystal...LBO?

  8. #8


    I got around to powering up the Versapulse 532,755,1064 q switched laser (no
    password, thank goodness!) and the darn thing works! I was looking foward
    to taking it apart :-/

    Very nice selection menu. The qswitched 532nm 755nm and 1064nm can be
    routed out of the articulated arm, which does not use fiberoptics. The
    532nm long pulse (2ms to 10ms) can only be routed through the fiber on the
    front of the machine.

    I took some shots at an old piece of test paper:

    The three shots on the left were 532nm, with the beam set at around 5mm
    diameter, 200mJ output. The shot on the far right is at 1064nm with the
    beam at 5mm diameter 400mJ output. This last shot pretty much blew off any
    black and also ate through most of the paper backing. Perhaps I should
    decrease the power to get an idea of what the modes are :-)

    Next step I removed the handpiece and put a 10x microscope objective lens at
    the end. I then fired at a razor blade but I only tried twice and don't
    think I really was in focus. One of the shots (400mJ at 1064nm) went about
    halfway through the blade.

    That brings up a question...what power level = 1 gillette penetration?

    Overall, not a whole lot more impressed with this than the SSY1, except it
    is 300lbs and has a pretty LCD touch screen!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2005


    That's a nice unit... Alexandrite lasers are one of the most efficient
    lasing mediums out there... You can most definiately make a nice
    anno removal/laser etching system out of that one! You'd want to
    keep an eye out for some galvos with IR mirrors (since they're
    usually cheaper than visible ones surplus) and keep the power down,
    pulse duration high, and scan slowly... We have this behemoth
    150W CW yag that that we've been keeping an eye out for optics to do
    that with ourselves...

  10. #10


    The rep rate is too slow and the flashlamp life too short to use this for etching/engraving IMO. I think the max rep rate is around 10 shots per second, with the flashlamps only good for 100,000 shots or so. So maybe you could engrave like one thing a day for about 2 days :-)

    The only thing I can think of is using the high peak power 532nm for holography if the beam quality is good.

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