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What Is Laser Welding and How Does the Technique Work? 2024-3-23

There are several types of welding techniques and applications, including MIG, TIG, Stick, and Flux-Cored. We have many resources and articles discussing these welding processes. Today we will walk through the laser welding process, how the technique works, types of laser welding, its advantages, and application.

What Is Laser Welding

Laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) welding is a fusion welding process where metals or thermoplastics are joined using a focused laser beam. It is the most advanced type of welding and finds application across diverse industries spanning from aerospace and medical equipment to fine jewelry making.

How Does Laser Welding Technology Work?

In the laser welding process, a highly concentrated beam of light is focused on the cavity between the materials to be joined. The powerful laser beam melts the materials at their seams and fuses into a joint. With such a highly concentrated heat source being used, laser welding in thin materials can be done at high speeds. In thicker materials, laser welding can produce deep and narrow welds.

There are two types of laser welding:
Heat conduction welding

In heat conduction welding, the laser beam heats the material surface above the melting point of the material. The process is used to produce welds that do not require high weld strength. This type of welding is done with a low power laser below 500W. Heat conduction welding produces smooth and aesthetical welds.

Keyhole welding

In keyhole welding, the laser beam heats the material surface to the point of vaporization, penetrating deep into the material. This creates a keyhole with a plasma-like condition. The temperature rises above 10,000K. This type of welding is done with a high-power laser above 105W/mm2.

Advantages of Laser Welding

Laser welding is versatile and can be used in conjunction with arc welding to create hybrid laser arc welding. The resulting weld possesses the advantages of both laser welding and arc welding. The weld also has deep penetrating joints and improved tolerance to joint fit-up. Undesirable effects such as internal porosity and cracking are also reduced.

When compared to traditional welding methods, laser beam welding offers the following advantages:
  • Less heat

    A highly concentrated laser beam is focused on a small area, making the heat-affected zone (HAZ) smaller. Thus, laser welding operation requires low-temperature input when compared to traditional welding.

  • Faster processing time

    Though the initial investment is high, the process proves to be more cost-effective than traditional welding. This is because laser welding has a faster processing speed that results in higher production and quicker turnaround.

  • Lowers risk of thermal distortion

    There is less thermal stress because the process involves a low heat input. The focused beam melts only a small area of the metal, thus minimizing heat-induced internal stress and distortion to the workpiece.

  • High precision

    The laser beam can be controlled and focused on a small area. This permits the welding of components with high precision. Its tailorable spot size makes laser welding most suitable for delicate or thin metals.

Laser Welding Applications

Due to its high precision, faster processing time, wide material tolerance, and consistent quality, laser welding has many applications.

Some of the areas where laser welding can be applied include:
  • Automotive Industry

    Laser welding offers a tool-free mode of operation and does not require the replacement of heads, making it extremely suitable for the automotive industry.

  • Steel Construction

    Due to its high productivity and production, laser technology finds use in the steel construction industry. Laser welding makes it possible to process thick sheets of metals at high speed within high tolerance.

  • Shipbuilding

    In shipbuilding, control and drive screws and rudders are manufactured with high precision and desired tolerance using laser welding. The result is lower fuel consumption and higher speeds for ships.

  • Tool Construction

    High precision makes the laser welding system suitable for tool making. The technology provides a solution for the manufacturing of precise pressing, punching, and casting tools.

Laser welding technology uses a laser beam as a high-concentrated heat source to join materials. The applied laser beam heats and melts the edges of the materials, forming a joint. Due to its high precision, high welding speed, faster processing time, wide material tolerance, and consistent quality, laser welding has a wide range of applications and is often used for high precision welds.
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