Cladding lasers and flatbed Lasers are two of the most commonly seen types of Laser; here’s a closer look at exactly what they are and their relative pros and cons.
Cladding Applications vs Flatbed
Lasers have a plethora of different applications and often feature in emerging technology, being able to provide pinpoint precision and accuracy. However, not all Lasers are the same or even operate in the same way so to get the best result it’s imperative that you know exactly what you need.
What is Laser Cladding?
A very precise and accurate process, Laser cladding could be described as a type of welding which can be used either to provide new components with a super-tough coating or for repairing and strengthening existing or damaged parts to extend their lifespan.
The Laser beam required is extremely focused, and it’s this accuracy and fine detail which allows a melt pool to be generated on the required surface. This is created after either metal wire or powder, typically the latter, is fed into the area.
This deposit is gradually melted with the assistance of the cladding Laser beam to build up the required level of coating. The heat of the materials must be carefully controlled during the whole process; this ensures a good bond is created while the rapid cooling helps to ensure that the fine microstructures are extremely strong and that the essential properties from the base material are unaffected.
Benefits of a Cladding Laser
Using a cladding Laser has a number of benefits which help it to achieve the tough and durable results which are required.
This type of Laser beam generates very little heat when used and this means that not only is there minimal distortion, it’s also possible to weld to materials which would otherwise have been out of the question.
There’s a great range of materials which are compatible for use with a cladding Laser and the resulting coating can be applied extremely thinly if desired, starting at 0.5mm-5mm. This means that the deposit can be added to the base very precisely so you can be certain you end up with it exactly where you want it.
The process of Laser cladding is very predictable, and this makes it perfect for automation. It also means the results can be repeated time and time again. The ease of automation means that Laser cladding can very simply be integrated into CNC and CAD production.
The final appearance is excellent with an attractive and appealing surface, so it can be used on parts which will be visible too.
What is a Flatbed Laser?
Used for cutting, flatbed Lasers are still relatively in their infancy as a technology, but are predicted to rocket tenfold in the coming years.
Flatbed Lasers are often supplied in the form of a solid state.
As well as cutting, flatbed Lasers are also used for engraving, achieving extremely accurate results. These etching qualities of a flatbed Laser means that it’s particularly suitable for displaying artwork on unusual mediums such as granite, chrome, marble, glass and wood.
Some of the industries that benefit from the use of flatbed Lasers include laptops, smartphones, medicine, packaging and barcodes.
Benefits of Flatbed Laser Use
Flatbed Lasers allow non-contact cutting, a procedure which brings with it a raft of benefits.
Replacement die stamps and retooling has been more or less eliminated with the use of flatbed Lasers, which in turn reduces manufacturing costs for companies.
In addition for slashing production costs, using flatbed Lasers also allows the creation of complex shapes which can be easily reproduced. Similarly to a cladding Laser, these can be embedded within a CAD system.
Fiber Laser machines are typically much faster than their predecessors, not sacrificing quality in return for quantity.
There are also a great number of materials which can be processed with a flatbed Laser providing versatility in return for the investment.
There are big differences between cladding and flatbed Lasers with both used for what appears to be very different primary purposes. However, there are some similarities with both offering excellent precision and pinpoint accuracy. A number of different materials can also be processed using Lasers of both types.
Although there are features which are similar, these types of Laser are fundamentally used for different processes, but both are expected to continue to rise in popularity in the near future.
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