Fiber Laser Welding in the Aerospace Industry

The aerospace industry is perhaps one of the most commercially important in the modern age. It has had a profound impact on many other areas of society, including travel, business and the transport of goods and services. Not to mention its role in the military or even space exploration.

From carrying hundreds of people and thousands of kilograms in weight to reaching new corners of space, it is fair to say that the aircraft that are designed in this industry undergo much pressure and therefore need to be manufactured to precise specifications.

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The aerospace industry is a heavy user of fiber laser welding

To build machines that will not only last, but will also work well under such stress, there is a heavy reliance on modern, safe and high-quality processes. Fiber laser welding is just one such process, but plays a crucial role within this sector.

The aerospace industry

The aerospace industry is a rather broad term which has come to encompass many different facets as we examined above. It involves everything from the design through to the sale of aircraft, and everything from short haul travel to travel beyond the atmosphere.

Given this, there are hundreds of thousands of businesses and people involved in this fast-paced sector. It’s not surprising that it’s become such a valuable sector too. In fact, the top 100 companies in this sector returned revenues of $709 billion in 2016.

Where perhaps other industries stagnate or plateau, the aerospace industry has continued to grow and adapt in new ways. As well as bigger planes and faster flight times, something that millions of commercial airline passengers have enjoyed, the race for commercial space travel has begun to dominate the headlines. Take Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, for example.

While this type of travel may be a little way off, commercial travel remains something enjoyed by millions daily. Around eight million people fly every single day, meaning that passengers will take over three billion flights each year.

With such a huge amount of travel that involves so many people, the aerospace industry has always been once that focuses on high quality and safety. There can be no room for error, and as the industry has continued to adapt, so too has the methodologies and processes that it utilises. One of these is fiber laser welding, and we’ve looked into this in more detail below.

The use of fiber laser welding in this sector

One of the biggest reasons that laser welding, and fiber lasers in particular, have grown in prominence with aircraft manufacturing and maintenance is their ability to work with a variety of materials. There are many materials involved within this industry, not to mention a variety of metals.

Laser welding setups are great at working with a high degree of materials, including the welding together of different substances. For example, dissimilar metal welding is a process that is needed often within this industry. But, one reason that our fiber lasers have become such a popular choice is their ability to work with reflective metals, such as aluminium and copper. Other types of lasers, such as the gas laser, can struggle with this, given the reflective nature of the materials.

Many different types of metals are used in the aerospace industry

Many different types of metals are used in the aerospace industry

One of the most common applications for fiber laser welding in this sector is for the creation of strong weld joints between turbine components.

Traditionally, methods such as vacuum brazing were used, but this was expensive and took many, many hours. Welding using a fiber laser, however, has lower rework costs, is much quicker, parts don’t need to be specially designed with a gap and no fixtures are needed to hold the various parts in the right position. Naturally, fiber laser welding has replaced many more traditional processes.

Contact SPI Lasers for further information

As can be seen from the above, fiber laser welding is, and will remain to be, an important part of the aerospace industry. And, with the numerous benefits that it offers, you will see it being used in a multitude of other industries too, such as the automotive, electronics, semi-conductor and medical.

If you want to find out more about how this process works, or for any other questions, please simply get in touch with us here, or register for updates.

 

Image credits: NASA-Imagery and dawnydawny

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