What is Laser Beam Welding? – Process, Advantages, Disadvantages and Applications

Laser Beam Welding (LBW) is a fusion welding process in which multiple pieces of metal are joined together through the use of laser. In LBW, the laser beam acts as a concentrated source of heat, which allows narrow, deep welds and high welding rates. The laser beam welding process is frequently used in high volume applications, such as in the automotive industry.

Laser Beam Welding Process

The figure shows the schematic diagram of the laser beam welding (LBW).

The main parts of the set up used for the laser beam welding are as follows −

  • Laser Machine – It is the machine that is used to produce the laser beam for welding process.

  • Power Supply – In order to operate the laser beam machine to produce the laser beam, a high voltage power supply is applied across the laser machine.

  • Shielding Gas – To prevent the atmospheric contamination, a shielding gas may also be used during the welding process.

First of all, the laser beam welding machine is located in between the two metal pieces to be joined. After that a high voltage electric power supply is applied to the laser beam machine, then the machine generates a concentrated laser beam. This concentrated laser beam is focused to the area where welding is to be done. The laser beam strikes the cavity between the workpieces to be joined and melts the base metal from the workpieces and joins them together.

The laser beam welding process has high power density resulting in small heat affected zones and high heating rate and cooling rate. The laser spot size may vary from 0.2 mm to 13 mm. Also, the depth of the penetration and the speed of welding are proportional to the amount of power supplied to the welding machine, but it also depends upon the location of the focal point.

Advantages of Laser Beam Welding

The advantages of the laser beam welding are given as follows −

  • Laser beam welding process takes very less time for welding thick sections.

  • Welds produced by the laser beam welding have high quality.

  • For high volume applications, the laser beam welding can be automated.

  • It requires no electrodes.

  • The laser beams can be transmitted through air. Therefore, laser beam welding does not require vacuum for its operation.

  • In case of laser beam welding, X-rays are not generated, thus it does not require X-ray shielding.

  • Laser beam welding can be used in places which are not easily accessible.

Disadvantages of Laser Beam Welding

The disadvantages of laser beam welding are as −

  • The capital cost and the maintenance cost for the laser beam welding are very high.

  • It requires highly skilled operator.

  • The energy conversion efficiency in laser beam welding process is very low, about 10%.

Applications of Laser Beam Welding

Some applications of the laser beam welding are given below −

  • Laser beam welding is used for welding carbon steels, HSLA steels, and stainless steels.

  • It can also be used for welding aluminum and titanium.

  • The laser beam welding is primarily used in automotive industry.

  • It is also employed in the areas where high volume production is needed.