4 Facts about Laser Welding for First-Time Fabricators

Sheet metal fabricators are increasingly adopting laser welding due to several benefits among them an enhanced speed of welding compared to traditional welding processes. Furthermore, advancement in laser technology has reduced the cost of laser machines making it affordable to first-time users. In fabricating sheet metal, a laser beam is focused on a material causing it to melt and join the components at extraordinary speeds without causing distortions. This article examines some top facts that first-time sheet metal fabricators must know about laser welding.

Materials and Thickness -- Various materials like titanium, coated steel, copper, aluminium, mild steel, stainless steel and carbon steel can be used in laser welding. The materials need not be similar since laser welding can join, for example, copper and mild steel. Notably, the thickness of materials to be welded depends on factors such as laser power, constituent component and welding technique applied. Deep penetration laser welding that utilises a higher laser power can accommodate thicker sheets compared to conventional heat conduction welding. Thermal conductivity and reflectivity of materials such as aluminium reduce the welding thickness marginally compared to other materials like steel. 

Enhanced Speed of Welding without Reworks -- Modern laser machines have caused a paradigm shift in metal fabrication. For example, laser welding produces welded pieces at incredible speeds without the need for reworks such as polishing, straightening, and grinding. Although reworks that are done during conventional welding procedures are vital for eliminating visual imperfections, they often cause the cost of sheet metal fabrication to rise. Weld seams produced by laser welding don't have distortions that call for such reworks.

Reduced Wastage -- Material saving is one significant benefit of laser welding, which translates into more money in your pocket. Shrewd fabricators also appreciate the technology for its part in reducing the weight of the final product. Additionally, laser welding enhances sheet utilisation because it takes advantage of the geometry of components during the design phase. The reason for low material utilisation is that laser welding minimises material thickness. Also, during bending, angle deviations are reduced thereby leading to the formation of seamless bends.

Tooling Equipment -- Conventional welding processes force fabricators to purchase expensive tooling equipment, which adds to the cost of production since each part needs a specific tool setup when bending and welding. However, with laser welding, you don't have to change the tooling equipment every time you are working on different pieces because you can use the same machine to bend and weld parts in different ways. For length-dependent bends, all you need to do in laser welding is to adjust the tool setup accordingly.