WEBSITE UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Laser welding is more accessible and affordable than ever — offering much faster travel speeds than other welding processes and weld consistency in automated and manual welding applications.
Improve productivity and save money
Finding ways to improve productivity and save money are important factors in any welding application. Companies often look at technology advancements to achieve these goals, but many operations might not consider laser welding — perhaps viewing it as too expensive or complicated.
Developments in laser welding technology have made it more accessible and affordable than ever. The process also offers significant productivity benefits that can deliver a fast return on investment. It’s especially well-suited for sheet metal welding applications.
When buying a welding machine, people seldom attach importance to energy efficiency. They are more obsessed with the operational welding costs that include gas, wire, rods, labor, and the overhead expenses. There is no denying that most welding power sources do not fare well when converting incoming line power to welding output power and in fact, only 60% to 70% efficiency is the norm.
Certain practical studies reveal manufacturing units can save a huge sum annually if due attention is paid to the power consumption aspect of welding machines.
There are instances when the annual expenditure towards power consumption by a welding machine exceeds its original purchase price. Manufacturers with multiple power sources and/or high duty-cycle applications are understandably eager to calculate the energy efficiency of a welding machine while purchasing it.
Most of a laser’s energy goes into making the weld itself, with very little wasted on heating the surrounding area. Less waste means lower utility bills.
The use of lasers for welding has some distinct advantages over other welding techniques. Many of these advantages are related to the fact that with laser welding a 'keyhole' can be created. This keyhole allows heat input not just at the top surface, but through the thickness of the material(s). The main advantages of this are detailed below:
Speed and flexibility
Laser welding is a very fast technique. Depending on the type and power of laser used, thin section materials can be welded at speeds of many metres a minute. Lasers are, therefore, extremely suited to working in high productivity automated environments. For thicker sections, productivity gains can also be made as the laser keyhole welding process can complete a joint in a single pass which would otherwise require multiple passes with other techniques. Laser welding is nearly always carried out as an automated process, with the optical fibre delivered beams from laser diodes or fibre lasers in particular being easily remotely manipulated using multi-axis robotic delivery systems, resulting in a geometrically flexible manufacturing process.
Deep, narrow welds
Laser welding allows welds to be made with a high aspect ratio (large depth to narrow width). Laser welding, therefore, is feasible for joint configurations that are unsuitable for many other (conduction limited) welding techniques, such as stake welding through lap joints. This allows smaller flanges to be used compared with parts made using resistance spot welding.
Low distortion and low heat input
Lasers produce a highly concentrated heat source, capable of creating a keyhole. Consequently, laser welding melts only a very volume of weld metal, and transmits only a limited amount of heat into the surrounding material, and consequently all welded parts distort much less than those welded with many other processes. Another advantage resulting from this low heat input is the VERY narrow width of the heat affected zones either side of the weld, resulting in less thermal damage and loss of properties in the parent material adjacent to the weld.
Suitable for a wide range of materials and thicknesses
With lasers, many different materials can be welded or joined, both metallic and non-metallic, and including steels, stainless steels, Al, Ti and Ni alloys, plastics and textiles. Furthermore, taking the example of steels, the thickness of the material that can be welded can be anything from under a millimetre to around 30mm , depending on the type and power of laser used.
Performed out of vacuum
Unlike the majority of electron beam keyhole welding operations, laser welding is carried out at atmospheric pressure, although gas shielding is often necessary, to prevent oxidation of the welds.
Non-contact, single-sided process
Laser welding does not apply any force to the workpieces being joined, and more often or not is a single sided process, ie completing the joint from one side of the workpieces. However, in common with many other fusion processes, weld root shielding can be required from the opposite side.