Laser welding is one of many subcategories in the laser cutting category. This branch of machining has grown in popularity because of its distinct advantages and the numerous ways it can be used to produce tools vital to industrial and manufacturing machines. The aerospace, military and defense, electronics, lab research, medical and petrochemical industries use laser welding because it is a fast process that offers minimized heat input and deep penetration abilities.
Two types of lasers are used for laser welding: CO2 gas lasers and neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet lasers, often referred to as solid state lasers. While gas lasers are faster, they also have more issues with reflective materials like copper. The solid state laser works by way of precisely placed mirrors and an electrical current that excites electrons, all combining into an energy that translates into a laser beam. Both of these laser types can be used to do laser drilling and cutting as well.
The laser welding process starts with choosing the focal point target on the material’s surface. The laser is converted into thermal energy at the surface, and the material begins to melt. Generally, the material being welded is less than point eight inches in order to obtain the best metallurgical and physical characteristics available. The laser always passes through a focusing lens because it concentrates the beam energy to an extremely small and precise focal point. The melted areas of each piece of material are joined together and fuse upon cooling. The welds made by lasers can be deep, narrow, small or thin, and distortion is rarely if ever an issue.
Various types of joints can be achieved with laser welding, including butt joints, lap joints, edge joints and tee joints. Because laser welding is able to combine two pieces without using additional filler substances or adhesives, it is a cheaper, more efficient and more earth friendly welding option. Also, because it can be CNC operated, it requires less time to complete the welding process and does not require individual attention for each piece.