If you look closely at the frame of your car, or at finely shaped metal elements of buildings, you have to wonder how they were crafted so precisely. Obviously, your car’s frame wasn’t found somewhere in nature. It started as a collection of separate pieces that were joined into one fluid whole.
One of the most impressive joining technologies is laser welding, which allows technicians to shape metals into the elegant final products we see and use every day. Let’s take a look at this high-tech process to see how it works, and why it’s a preferred method for many industry professionals.
How It Works
What is a laser, exactly? It’s a device that amplifies light into a concentrated, high-energy beam. This beam generates massive amounts of heat when it comes into contact with another material – this heat is, of course, useful in many applications.
Laser welding involves shooting a thin, high-powered laser at a heat-resistant substrate, on top of which two pieces of metal can be melted, joined, and shaped. The laser only heats a tiny area: this allows for extreme precision in shaping the weld between two materials. The laser may run as a continuous stream of light, or as a series of millisecond-long pulses. Continuous streams are usually used to make deep welds, while pulsating light is useful for cutting very small pieces, like razor blades. Most welding setups utilize robotic arms to steer the laser through your materials, joining them into one. Other setups use a remote console to steer the laser’s movement.
Advantages Over Other Techniques
As stated, laser welding is extremely precise. Many of the precision welding products we see in everyday life – automobile frames, aircraft components, and many more – are products of laser joining technologies. Lasers create a clean product, without the distortion caused by other techniques: you’d never guess that the final piece started out as two separate materials.
The laser technique is also much more versatile than other techniques. It works well on aluminum, titanium, carbon steel, stainless steel, nickel alloys, and plastics. It also doesn’t matter how thin your material is: the laser will be able to penetrate materials of any width. Laser welding is also much faster than other approaches: it makes quick work of bulky pieces that would take more time with traditional welding.
Safety is paramount in the laser joining process. Luckily, you probably won’t be shooting any lasers around in your own home. Since the technology is so expensive, you’ll go to a professional joiner to have pieces welded together in a high-tech, safety-conscious workspace. Look for technicians who are highly trained and familiar with the health and safety risks involved.
Laser welding is an impressive feat of modern humankind, allowing us to take natural materials and mold them to suit our purposes. If you’re an industrial professional with a heavy-duty welding project in mind, depend on lasers to give you the best final product.
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