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There are many ways in which fiber lasers can improve/enhance welding processes within a wide variety of industries. Here we summarise many of the advantages of fiber laser welding, this application insight covers the following topics:
Fiber Laser welding can replace many of the traditional welding technologies with many benefits which can be summed up by reduced costs, improved efficiency and higher quality welds. This series of advantages are due to the following properties of Fiber Lasers:
Our range of Fiber Lasers are “fit and forget” and are inherently zero maintenance with all of the traditional Laser components built into a fiber optic. This removes the requirement for re-alignment and makes it a truly industrial tool which can be operated with a minimum amount of fuss and hassle.
Our Fiber Lasers for welding are supplied as complete units in 19” (4U) rack configurations. No further power supplies are required. The carbon footprint is significantly smaller than traditional welding equipment which allows the Laser to be placed close to the application or to use the advantages that fiber delivery can give. The lower levels of heat required by fiber laser welding are not only environmentally friendly, but also mean there is very minimal damage caused to surrounding components/materials and all of this is delivered at a lower operating cost.
Standard delivery fibers are provided between 6-20m which allows for the Lasers to be used in highly dynamic applications and are particularly suited for robot based applications.
The typical wall plug efficiency of an SPI Laser is 25% or greater. Along with the greater coupling efficiency of the 1µm in comparison to the 10µm wavelength the Fiber Laser is extremely economical.
Table 1 shows the difference in reflectivity of 1µm (Fiber Laser) and 10µm (CO2 Laser). This means that more of the energy from a 1µm source is absorbed into these metals than with a 10.6µm (CO2 Laser) source.
Table 1: The reflectivity and wavelengths of fiber and CO2 lasers
The importance of the higher M2 values becomes more apparent with welding. The single mode Laser still has a place particularly for deep welds on micro components where the small cross-sectional area can be an advantage.
Table 2: Showing the M2 values and watts for the SPI fiber laser range
A series of bead on plate welds were carried out to explore the effect on the weld properties of the different M2 values available from our current Fiber Laser product range. Three different Lasers with M2≤1.1, 7.5 and 15 were all run using the same 75mm collimator and 200mm focusing lens. Due to the variation in the M2 values the spot diameter increased from 49µm with the single mode to 266µm with the M2=15 Laser.
As table 2 shows, the weld shape is significantly changed due to energy intensity and beam parameters. The single moded Laser produced a deep penetration weld whilst the M2=15 Laser with these particular optics produced a very shallow weld.
It is unlikely that this combination of optics and Laser would be used in an industrial application, but this process shows the effect beam quality has on weld properties.
The beam properties of a Laser also have a significant effect on the Depth of Field (DoF) produced at the workplace. A larger DoF is generally produced by a Laser with a lower M2 value. The affect is quite dramatic as can be seen in table 3. The single mode Laser (M2=1.1) with a large depth of field can be used to increase the process tolerance.
Through fiber laser welding the overall welding quality is improved in a number of areas due to the increased precision of the laser beam. This technique delivers very consistent welding of high strengths, which are ideal for high-repeat manufacturing operations. Even the most complicated of welding joints can be achieved, including the welding of dissimilar metals.
What we have described above is just one process, which can be achieved through SPI’s Fiber Laser range. View our main laser applications page to see the variety of other uses that a fiber laser can help with.
We hope that you will now appreciate even more the benefits that fibers lasers have for welding applications. If you would like to discuss this further why not
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