We Endeavour to Beat Any Like For Like Quote!

T&Cs Apply

 

What Is A Fiber Laser Welding Machine?

Banner graphic for what is a fiber laser welding machine

What Is A Fiber Laser Welding Machine?

Steve from HPC Laser introduces us to the cutting-edge technology of fiber laser welding, a technique that’s been gaining attention on social media for its impressive results.

This innovative approach to welding offers a glimpse into the future of manufacturing, promising efficiency, precision, and safety.

Browse our range of fiber laser welding machines here.

Watch the full video here:

So, What Is A Fiber Laser Welding Machine?

A fiber laser welding machine uses similar principles to a fiber laser cutter and is an advanced piece of equipment designed for joining metal in place of a traditional MIG or TIG welder.

Utilizing a highly focused beam of light, this technology offers unparalleled accuracy and efficiency in welding applications.

The core principle behind fiber laser welding is the conversion of light into thermal energy, which is then applied to metal parts to melt and fuse them together.

The laser beam, characterised by its high intensity and narrow focus, allows for precise control over the welding process. This precision minimizes thermal distortion and eliminates the excess spatter commonly associated with traditional welding techniques, resulting in clean, high-quality welds.

Advantages of Fiber Laser Welding

One of the most significant benefits of fiber laser welding is its speed and the quality of welds it produces. Not only that, the welds look great, with very low profiles and zero spatter, eliminating the need for post-processing.

This technology also helps open up welding to the masses; even those without prior welding experience can achieve superior results, as demonstrated by Tom from the sales team, who successfully welded on his first-ever attempt.

Precision and Control

Laser welding provides exceptional precision and control over the welding process, allowing for the accurate joining of components with minimal heat input.

This precision is particularly beneficial for delicate or intricate parts, where traditional welding methods might cause damage or distortion.

High-Quality Welds

An example of a fiber laser weld by an first time welder

The weld joint produced by laser welding are high quality, with clean, consistent joins that exhibit minimal spatter and porosity. This results in stronger welds with better appearance, often eliminating the need for post-weld finishing.

Reduced Heat Input

One of the significant advantages of laser welding is its reduced heat input (and very concentrated heat source), which minimizes the heat-affected zone (HAZ) and thermal distortion.

This reduction in temperature is crucial for maintaining the integrity and properties of the materials being welded, especially in applications requiring high precision and minimal distortion.

Versatility

Laser welding can be applied to a wide range of materials, including metals that are difficult to weld using traditional methods. It’s also capable of joining dissimilar materials and thicknesses, offering flexibility across different applications and industries.

Increased Speed

Compared to conventional welding techniques, laser welding is faster, which can significantly enhance production efficiency. The speed of laser welding does not compromise the quality of the weld, making it an efficient option for high-volume manufacturing where welding speeds matter.

Automation and Integration

You don’t have to use handheld laser welding machines, laser welding systems can be easily automated and integrated into existing manufacturing lines, allowing for consistent and repeatable welds. This compatibility with automation technologies drives productivity and reduces labour costs.

Considerations & Challenges

As with all equipment, there will always be pros and cons. That aren’t many with fiber laser welding, but here we take a look at some of the minor pitfalls, and how you can mitigate them.

Gap Tolerance

One significant challenge with fiber laser welding is its intolerance for gaps between the parts being welded. Unlike traditional MIG welding, which can fill larger gaps between poorly fitting components, fiber laser welding requires parts to be closely fitted.

This limitation means that additional preparation may be necessary to ensure parts align well before welding, potentially increasing the prep time for certain projects.

Sensitivity of Laser Optics

An image of the delicate fiber laser welding head and gun

The laser head, a critical component of the fiber laser welding machine, contains sensitive optics that are not as durable as the equipment used in more traditional welding methods. This sensitivity necessitates careful handling and maintenance to prevent damage.

Unlike a MIG welder, which can be somewhat roughly handled without significant risk of damage, the laser welding head requires a gentler approach.

Additional Safety Precautions

Safety is paramount in laser welding due to the potential for retinal damage. To address this, you will need specialised welding masks that protect against the specific wavelengths of fiber lasers, as well as infrared and UV radiation.

An image showing a fibre laser welding mask that protects your eyes

Fibre laser specific safety enclosures are recommended in order that other workers in the area are protected from the laser beam.

Additional protective gear is also needed, such as welding gauntlets and flame retardant overalls, mirroring the precautions taken with traditional welding methods.

Deskilling and Craftsmanship

Another advantage, which can be seen from different perspectives, is the level of deskilling involved with laser welding.

The technology simplifies the welding process to the extent that individuals without prior welding experience can produce high-quality welds with minimal training.

While this democratization of the skill can increase productivity and reduce training requirements, it also raises concerns about diminishing the craftsmanship traditionally associated with welding.

Some professionals in the field may view this as a negative aspect, feeling that the art and skill of welding are being eroded by technology that makes the process too simplistic.

Which Industries Typically Use Laser Welders?

The list is now so large that it would be impossible to name them all, but here are some of the biggest industries that rely on fiber laser welders:

  • Automotive Industry: Essential for producing strong, lightweight components, laser welders are used in welding car bodies, engine components, and transmission parts, enhancing vehicle safety and fuel efficiency.
  • Aerospace and Aviation: The aerospace sector relies on laser welding for joining engine parts, structural components, and intricate assemblies in aircraft and spacecraft, where durability under extreme conditions is critical.
  • Medical Device Manufacturing: The precision and gentle handling of laser welding makes it perfect for assembling surgical instruments, implants, and other medical devices, where maintaining material integrity is vital.
  • Electronics and Microelectronics: In electronics, laser welders are crucial for joining small components with precision, ensuring the integrity of electrical connections in semiconductors, batteries, and circuit boards.
  • Jewellery Making: Laser welders allow for detailed work on precious metals, enabling jewellers to join intricate parts, perform repairs, and add fine details without damaging delicate designs.
  • Tool and Die Repair: They offer a high-accuracy solution for repairing moulds, dies, and tooling, extending the life of expensive equipment and reducing manufacturing downtime.
  • Research and Development: Laser welders support R&D efforts by enabling experimentation with different welding parameters and materials, facilitating the development of new products and materials.

Common Customer Questions About Laser Welding

During our exhibitions, we often get asked similar questions about laser welding, so here are some answers to those burning questions.

Are laser welders any good?

Absolutely. Laser welders are highly regarded for their ability to deliver precise, clean, and efficient welding results. They excel in producing high-quality joins with minimal heat input, reducing distortion and allowing for the welding of complex, delicate, or closely aligned components.

Is laser welding stronger than MIG?

Generally, yes. Laser welding typically results in stronger welds compared to MIG welding when correctly applied. This strength advantage comes from laser welding’s deep penetration and focused heat source, which minimizes the heat-affected zone and preserves the material’s integrity better than MIG welding.

Is laser welding easy?

Laser welding is considered much easier to master than some traditional welding techniques, thanks to its precision and the control it offers. With the right setup and some basic training, even new operators can produce consistent, high-quality welds, making it a user-friendly option for all.

Does laser welding use gas?

Yes, laser welding usually involves the use of a shielding gas, such as argon or nitrogen, to protect the weld zone from oxidation and other atmospheric contaminants. The choice of gas can affect the weld’s characteristics, including its appearance and integrity.

Our Machines: A Closer Look

The heart of HPC Laser’s technology are the LSW 2kW & 3kW fiber laser welding machines, designed for ease of use with its touchscreen operation and key-locked entry.

An image of the HPC range of LSW fiber laser welding machines

The machine features a built-in water chiller, eliminating the need for an external water supply, and uses industrial argon as a shielding gas which is readily available.

A versatile wire feed unit supports various spool sizes and wire types, allowing for infinite variability in wire speeds and the choice between pulse and continuous feed.

The key-locked entry ensures that only authorized personnel can access the machine, enhancing safety and security.

Material Compatibility and Power

A picture illustrating different metals being welded together

This machine stands out for its broad material compatibility, capable of welding carbon steels, stainless steel, aluminium, brass, and copper, with or without filler wire.

Its power efficiency is excellent, requiring approximately 400 watts per millimeter thickness of material for full penetration, making it suitable for welding up to 5mm of carbon steel, but slightly less for aluminium and other metals.

Summing It Up

HPC Lasers fiber laser welding machine represents a significant advancement in welding technology, offering a blend of speed, precision, and ease of use.

While it introduces new considerations in terms of operation and workpiece preparation, the benefits it brings to the table—ranging from improved safety, reduced energy consumption and most importantly speed, outweigh the downsides.

As the industry continues to evolve, the adoption of fiber laser welding technology promises to redefine standards of quality, efficiency, and accessibility in metal fabrication.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.