The last decade has seen many innovative technologies changing how today’s welder works in the welding industry. From ground-breaking welding techniques to the latest software, new welding equipment and machines are enhancing safety as well as productivity. The emergence of Laser beam welding is one of the ground-breaking technology that adapted welding into a quick, reliable, and flexible process. Laser beam welding applications are used in various industries, from fabricating complex aviation parts to precise jewelry making.
Laser beam welding is a dynamic fusion technique that produces high-quality welds with a low heat rate rather than other arc welding processes. It’s a direct material-to-material joint with no filler involvement. Laser welding is suitable for high volume and precision requiring industries like construction, aviation, aerospace, automobile, shipbuilding, etc.
This article will introduce you to laser beam welding technology, its process, application, and advantages.
Let’s begin our discussion with the process of laser beam welding.
What is Laser Beam Welding?
The laser beam is an advanced fusion welding process that joins two or more pieces of metal and thermoplastic through pulsed wave (PW) and continuous wave (CW) lasers. It is a unique process that uses a concentrated high-power laser beam to melt thin as well as thick metal interfaces. The high energy density of the laser beam makes laser welding stand out, which allows for excellent penetration.
The primary significance of this welding is that the laser can melt the limited area located at the ends of the joint without compromising a large part due to its focusable high-intensity heat source. This method is often used to create narrow and deep joints with a depth to width ratio of 4 to 10.
How does laser beam welding work?
- The laser beam welding machine is situated between the two metal pieces that need to be joined.
- A high voltage electric power supply is then applied to the laser beam machine, which in turn generates a concentrated laser beam.
- This concentrated laser beam is focused on the area that needs to be welded.
- The laser beam strikes the cavity between the workpieces and melts the base metal.
- Thus joining the workpieces together.
This process has a micro heat-affected zone. The laser spot size can be changed to be anywhere from 0.2 mm to 13 mm. It is a concentrated heat source that allows a high active speed and low warping of the workpiece. The penetration depth and welding speed are determined by how much power is supplied to the welding machine, and sometimes it also relies on the zone of the focal point. (Source)
Laser Welding Advantages
You cannot find laser welding types of characters in any other method. Some of the laser beam welding advantages that make it unique are:
- It has a high electro-optical conversion rate means that it doesn’t use up a lot of energy, so it’ll save you money on your electric bill. Likewise, you can use it for a long time, and you won’t have to keep buying new ones.
- It can provide highly specified targeted laser welds. So this process is ideal for detailing and precise welding of small and delicate parts.
- It can joint two pieces of material in seconds.
- It can be automated for high-volume production.
- You can weld complex shapes and hard-to-reach surfaces with its targeted laser.
- Its concentrated heat source allows a high active speed and low warping of the workpiece.
- No thermal damage to sensitive features close to weld.
- It does not require any filler material.
- You can get high-quality weld through a laser beam.
- This process is highly controllable with little scrap involved.
- You can weld multiple layers together.
- Safe and user-friendly process with no flash or spatter involved.
Laser Beam Welding Application
Laser beam welding plays a crucial part in meeting the growing demands of the welding industry. It provides easy use with robots, full automation, systematization, and workforce reduction. Today laser welding applications have significantly helped welding engineers to improve the quality of fabrication processes. Its applications are prominent in diversified industries to boost productivity and quality.
It is commonly used in:
In jewelry making, a concentrated and amplified beam of light welds two pieces of metal together. This beam is a heat source and provides deep and narrow welds at high welding rates. Moreover, it does not use any filler material. Thus, the bond is light but strong, making this process highly demanding in jewelry making industry.
Medical instrument industry
Laser beam welding is an excellent choice for joining small and thin materials typical of medical components such as stents and surgical instruments. Not only are the dimensions critical, but the aesthetics are as well. Laser beam welding produces clean, precise welds that look great.
Laser welding has become a standard method used in automotive applications that require welding on a large scale, such as body frames, door frames, trunks, and hoods. Moreover, automobile industries also use laser beam welding for welding plastic parts like back and front lights and electronic housing.
It is also used for delicate welding parts like airbag initiators, motor coil windings, battery tab-to-bus bar connections, and electrical components within an automobile.
Laser welding has the potential to revolutionize aircraft part production. This is why many aircraft producers and manufacturers increasingly use laser welding to connect multiple parts into a single complex structure. This simplifies the overall process and saves material resources. Thereby improving production efficiency, making it ideal for manufacturing metal fuselage structures. Airbus has been using the technique for three years now, and it has proved to be successful in the serial production of the A318. (source)
1- What is laser welding used for?
Laser welding is an advanced fusion welding process that welds multiple pieces of metal and thermoplastic through a laser beam. The high energy density of the laser beam makes laser welding unique, which gives deep penetration without distortion of a large part of the workpiece.
It is commonly used for welding large volume and delicate products as well as complex hard-to-reach surfaces. Laser beam welding applications are most prominent in automotive industries to boost productivity, reduce the cost of production and improve fabrication quality.
There are many benefits to using laser processing for many alloys like titanium, aluminum, copper, or stainless steel. Laser processing is more energy-efficient, produces less waste, and is more flexible and easier to operate than traditional welding methods. Additionally, laser processing can help improve the quality and efficiency of your final product.
2- How much does laser welding cost?
- Primary portable handheld laser welders usually cost between $5,800 and $10,500. They come with fiber laser powers of 1000W, 1500W, and 2000W.
- The affordable automatic laser beam welding machines with fiber laser power supply of 1000W, 1500W, and 2000W will cost you from $48,000.00 to $58,000.00.
- The best budget automated CNC laser welding systems with fiber laser powers of 1000W, 1500W, and 2000W will cost from $18,800.00 to $25,800.00.
- The most pocket-friendly 3-in-1 laser welding cleaning and cutting machine with a fiber laser power supply of 1000W and 1500W costs from $5,500.00 to $7,500.00.
The average price for laser beam welding machines will be $7,800.00, and robot types will be $52,800.00 in 2022. However, as with most things, you get what you pay for, and prices on these machines vary greatly depending on the welder’s configurations and features.
If you want to read more about welding techniques, read our articles: CNC Welding Requirements, Uses, Possibilities, and