Laser welding aluminum with
High-power diode lasers

Diode lasers offer several advantages in laser welding of aluminum compared to conventional welding processes. These include a quiet melt pool that guarantees clean, virtually spatter-free welding, as well as spot parameters that can be precisely adjusted to the respective application when using a multi-spot module.

Aluminum laser welding - The process

As with all welding processes, the joining zones of the two components to be joined are locally melted by a targeted heat input, in this case by a diode laser. The melts of the two components flow into each other, cool down and form a solid joint after solidification. Since the individual alloy components of the aluminum solidify at different temperatures, there is a risk of hot cracks due to the shrinkage stresses occurring in the microstructure during cooling. These would significantly reduce the strength of the welded joint. To avoid hot cracks, a filler wire of aluminum silicon (AlSi) is therefore added to optimize aluminum weldability. The weld produced in this way not only has excellent strength but is also visually appealing and requires no post-processing.

Laser hot wire welding of aluminum

In hot wire welding, electrical current is passed through and pre-heats the filler wire using Joule resistance heating before the laser completes melting to a liquid state. Liquid metals absorb laser energy at much higher rate. The less laser energy has to be introduced to to liquefy the filler wire, the more efficient the laser becomes in the process. Put simply, in the hot wire process, the electrical power substitutes laser power that is no longer applied to melt the filler wire. Overall, there are positive effects on the energy footprint and process stability. Significant process advantages are associated with the laser hot-wire process: the heat input and the heat-affected zone are smaller compared to other welding processes, reducing distortion. In addition, higher process speeds can be achieved at high weld grades. The weld seam quality is excellent.

Diode lasers optimize aluminum welding

A major advantage of the process is the calm melt pool  The weld seams therefore turn out very uniformly shaped, clean and smooth. Contamination due to unwanted metal splashes on the surface of the workpiece and on the laser optics can be avoided.

High energy efficiency

Another advantage is the significantly higher energy efficiency of the diode laser compared to other industrial lasers, which makes it attractive for laser welding aluminum in terms of both process technology and economy. Alongside the higher efficiency, yet another factor has a positive impact: Compared to many other industrial lasers, the generally shorter wavelength range of diode lasers is closer to aluminum's absorption maximum. Less laser energy is reflected and less laser power is required to melt the material. Developments in recent years show that energy efficiency and sustainability are becoming a major factor in production in almost all industries. The development of future-oriented technology that produces optimum results with consistently high performance is therefore trend-setting for Laserline. 

Flexible beam shaping

Last but not least, the Laserline Multi-Spot module can be used to implement almost any spot geometry to suit any specific process requirement, be it splitting the beam into several individual spots, adjusting the spot spacing or distributing the intensity within a spot. With the Spot-In-Spot configuration, for example, symmetrical and asymmetrical seams can be achieved with a considerably better weld quality than with conventional circular or rectangular spots, and this at high speeds. The Spot-In-Spot technique is used, among other things, for welding aluminum with filler wire.

In laser brazing, a process somewhat similar to aluminum welding with filler wire, the multi-spot module is used in a so-called triple-spot configuration: Two secondary spots upstream of the main spot remove the coating at the edge of the wire melting area. During the directly subsequent melting process, this contributes to a considerably smoother, controlled welding process. Read more...

Process development in our application laboratories

In close cooperation with our customers, Laserline application specialists develop the right setup for aluminum welding processes and optimize the process parameters ready for series production.

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Precision Power Laser
by Lincoln Electric©

Modern electric vehicles are powered by a battery pack, which is usually housed in an aluminum box. These boxes vary in size depending on the vehicle, but all the components of the battery boxes require some kind of joining in the production process. A number of different solutions are in use and being tested for this purpose. All methods must ensure a safe product with a complete seal to prevent environmental elements from entering the pack.

Conventional methods pose challenges: production times, distortion, post weld cracking 

Welding is a preferred method, but besides longer production times, conventional methods such as MIG can also lead to distortion and thus to tolerance problems in further assembly steps in vehicle production. Due to the materials being used, neither autogenous welding nor friction stir are a fit as there will be concerns of post weld cracking in both processes.

Precision Power Laser: fast, flexible, high quality

A new system solution for battery tray welding is based on hot wire laser welding and avoids these disadvantages. This process is known as Precision Power Laser by Lincoln Electric.
It delivers TIG welding quality at 2-3 times MIG welding speed;  A high-quality deposit at high travel speeds with almost infinite control over all aspects of the weld. As a completely non-synergic process, no longer are the limitations of an arc defining factors in weld speed, size, and quality. Travel speeds in excess of 3m/min are possible, depending on material thickness and laser power being used.

Demonstrator Battery Tray | Aluminium | 3,0 mm

P Laser  6 kW
PWire  0.8 kW
Vs 1.3  m/min 
VWire 4.6 m/min
Material Thickness  3  mm
Wire Specification1.2 mm SuperGlaze®5356

The viable solution in many applications: welding, brazing, cladding and additive manufacturing

Being flexible is what makes the combination of hot-wire with laser so applicable for a variety of materials and applications throughout many industries. This means it can be a better choice over traditional MIG and TIG in processes such as cladding, brazing, welding and additive manufacturing; especially in situations where distortion must be mitigated. As it happens, adding heat through the filler metal has proven to be a very efficient way of increasing deposition rates and travel speeds while reducing overall heat input.
As a result, a hot wire/laser process can typically achieve higher process speeds with lower heat input and with less metallurgical change to the base material. All of these factors significantly reduce distortion. In situations where speed and quality are critical, the hot-wire/laser process can deliver its full benefits . Depending on material thickness and laser power, welding speeds of over 3 m/min are possible.

Aluminum | 1.5 mm | 3 m/min

P Laser  6 kW
PWire  0,8 kW
Vs 3.0  m/min 
VWire 4.6 m/min
Thickness 1.5  mm

Aluminum welding in the automotive industry

When laser welding complex body parts in the visible area, such as car doors, the highest demands are placed on the visual appearance of the weld seams. Therefore, particularly smooth seams are required, which can be painted directly without reworking. The diode laser in spot-in-spot configuration used for this purpose works on the one hand with a main spot at high power input and on the other hand with a surrounding spot that smoothes the weld seam in the same operation. The result is a homogeneous weld seam free of pores and spatter, and no further processing of the material is required. Depending on the application, this process can also be used without additional welding wire, which contributes to cost savings in production.

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