Laser Welding 101
If you're looking to weld two things together, you have a few options. One method growing in popularity is laser beam welding. Laser welding uses a laser beam to join pieces of metal or thermoplastics together.
How Laser Welding Works
The laser beam acts as a heat source, which is a necessary component for welding. Two sheets are held together and targeted by the laser. The laser essentially melts the edges of the sheets to weld them together and create one item from the two that previously existed, thus welding them together.
When It's Used
Due to the nature of the lasers, laser welding is often used on assembly lines, especially in the automotive industry. It's the preferred welding method for situations when a lot of materials are being melded together quickly.
It's also often used in situations where precision is key and small items are being melded together. As such, it's often used to make jewelry and on medical equipment as well.
Laser beam welding can be either pulsed-laser welding or continuous wave laser welding. Pulsed laser welding is known for less splatter than continuous laser welding. Continuous laser welding, however, doesn't get as hot or crack certain materials the way pulsed-laser welding can.
Despite laser beam welding's growing popularity, there are still other methods of melding as well. Other popular types of welding include metal inert gas, tungsten inert gas, and resistance spot.
For metal inert gas welding, wire is fed into the welding which means that material is being added to reinforce the weld. It is frequently used for perpendicular pieces. Metal inert gas welding is also known for being easy to automate.
Tungsten inert gas welding, meanwhile, is a pretty slow process. It is also expensive to use and requires more technical knowledge than some other welding methods.
With resistance spot welding, the two pieces that are being melded together are pressed together and a current is forced through the spot. It works fairly quickly.
Laser beam welding is much faster than traditional welding, which also makes it desirable to many. Metal inert gas welding, according to an SME article, can normally weld 20 to 30 inches per minute. Laser beam welding, however, can weld almost 200 inches per minute. It can, therefore, cut production time down which is why it is used in a lot of automated facilities. Its time-saving properties also make it more cost-effective than other melding methods.
Laser Beam Welding Advantages
Laser beam welding is growing in popularity because it can be used on a wide variety of materials. It is also generally a quick process, though exactly how long it takes depends on the thickness of the items you are melding. The process is also easily automated.
As previously mentioned, laser beam welding is often used because the process is easy to automate. The welding technique can be used on computer-aided design.
Solid-state lasers and gas lasers are the most commonly used lasers in the automation process. Solid-state lasers use solids, like synthetic rub, in the welding process. They operate under short wavelengths and the laser itself is generally a crystal shape.
Gas lasers use gases like helium in the welding process. They generally require a high voltage power source.