Laser Material Processing in Industrial Production

Diode lasers represent an economical, compact heat source that can be adapted to many laser material processing applications by means of suitable additional components or special optics. Typical applications include welding, brazing, or hardening. Laserline diode lasers are also firmly established in newer manufacturing methods, such as additive manufacturing.

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A Versatile Solution for Laser Material Processing

Thanks to their adaptability, diode lasers can handle a wide range of applications in production processes around the globe. Today, diode lasers are an indispensable component of many industrial sectors, being primarily used for the welding of steel and aluminum, cladding, coating, and repair welding, as well as hard soldering and hardening. Diode lasers are also the preferred option for new manufacturing processes such as the welding of fiber composites or 3D printing.

Laser Metal Processing

Laserline develops various systems for a wide array of applications in laser sheet metal working and other applications for industrial metal processing. The applications in the field of laser material processing cover a broad spectrum, stretching from metal welding to surface treatment, through to cutting and generative methods such as laser metal deposition (LMD).

In terms of metal processing, Laserline’s high-power diode lasers are used in the following typical application fields, among others:

Welding of metals / metal welding (aluminum, stainless steel, construction steel, and other metals)

Joints produced with Laserline lasers are particularly strong and display only minimum deformation. Welds produced at high machining speeds achieve an excellent weld surface. A distinction is made between heat conduction welding and keyhole welding. In keyhole welding, diode lasers have already been achieving a beam quality comparable to the Nd:YAG laser for many years. Deep penetration welding is widely used in the energy sector, for instance for gear components. Diode lasers achieve particularly smooth seams with low spatter. Another important application is the welding of aluminum: due to the short wavelengths, verging on the absorption maximum for aluminum, this method is widely used in the automotive industry where high power diode laser systems are used as a tool for welding aluminum for car body construction.

Innovative laser sheet metal working: welding tailored blanks

A relatively recent application comes in the form of the welding of tailored blanks using high-power diode lasers. In this process, components made from different materials or different thicknesses are joined for subsequent forming, meaning that vehicle components can be optimized in terms of their crash behavior and weight.

Metal hardening

Components hardened with diode lasers reliably meet all the requirements in terms of improved wear protection, which is crucial for many machine parts, tools and implements. As the hardening temperature can be precisely controlled throughout the process, it is possible to achieve an optimum hardness for each material. Laser heat treatment is also used to prepare high-strength materials for subsequent forming by reducing their hardness in well-defined areas.

Laser brazing/hard soldering (especially in the automotive industry)

Brazing and welding with filler wire are well-established methods for joining metal components. As diode lasers are virtually maintenance-free, they are particularly suited to applications such as the brazing of car body components in industrial mass production. Minimum space requirements, portability, high efficiency, and excellent process stability make diode lasers the most efficient tool for these kinds of applications.

Cladding/ Coating/ Repair welding

Over the last few years, fiber-coupled diode lasers have revealed themselves to be ideal for most welding and coating tasks. Diode laser cladding offers a advantages over conventional techniques, namely higher cooling rates, reduced deformation and a particularly fine-grain structure with optimized adhesion. The resulting finishes are of excellent quality and require virtually no reworking. Laser cladding using powder or wire is a highly efficient option for repairing damaged coatings and applying corrosion and wear protection layers to metal components.

Additive manufacturing

The integration of laser sources into machine tools is a highly interesting use in this field, with huge potential. By combining additive and subtractive tools in a single unit, manufacturers can explore completely new machining processes. A recent example is the five-axis milling machine with an integrated laser. The diode laser applies a powder coating onto the workpiece, providing a solid base for subsequent milling in selected areas. By switching flexibly between the laser and the mill, the workpiece can be reworked to a level of perfection that is simply not achievable by machining the finished part.

Processing a Wide Array of Materials

Diode lasers have also been used successfully in the following ongoing industrial operations in terms of methods to process composite materials and applications in the plastic industry for many years now:

  • Welding plastic
  • Edgeband welding in the furniture industry
  • Tape laying and tube wrapping of CFRP tapes (carbon fiber-reinforced plastics)
  • Warm machining of ceramics
  • Cutting of plastics and other materials

Diversity of Diode Lasers

We take advantage of the opportunity to align the laser’s focus with each power so that the optimum process with the diode laser in laser metal processing is achieved for each application. Additionally, for various processing tasks, the laser is made more specific by virtue of suitable additional components such as a fiber optic cable, an optic, and more. As a result, our diode lasers can be used in various ways within the spectrum of laser material processing. Continuous improvements to the beam sources in the fields of performance and beam quality mean that new fields of application keep opening up for our high-power diode lasers. This high flexibility that characterizes our lasers is also reflected in our modular design principle. The continuous development of our systems is supported by our growing expertise in laser material processing and diode laser technology. Thanks to this knowledge, we can find the right laser for almost every application.

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