Laser beam welding is a method of fusing two pieces of metal together by using a high-heat laser. This technique uses one of two types of welding equipment: a solid state welder or a gas laser welder. These machines both create a precise bond by emitting a dense photon beam that can work with both thin and thick pieces of metal. This type of welder is popular in producing airplanes, cars and spacecraft, but has a few disadvantages that prohibit it from working in all industries.
Welding with laser beams works because of a dense beam of photons that each type of machine produces. This light ray heats metals up quickly so that the two pieces fuse together into one unit. The light beam is very small and focused, so the metal weld also cools very quickly. Laser beam welding machines can give off a continuous beam to work with thicker metals, or short pulsing bursts to bind thinner materials.
No matter what material is being worked on, one of two types of welders is used for the job. A solid state welder uses a crystal surrounded by a flash tube to create the energy necessary in laser beam welding. A gas laser uses either nitrogen, carbon dioxide, or helium to produce a laser. A gas welder is often preferred to a solid state because it has a higher energy output.
Laser beam welding works well with metals like steel, aluminum and titanium. Consequently, industries that use these metals typically embrace laser welders. Automotive, aeronautic and aerospace production facilities are well known as the main users of the laser beam welding technique. Besides working well with these metals, laser welders are also preferred because they can produce precise welds at the high volume needed by production lines.
The laser beam welding industry has utilized lasers for their speed, accuracy and power, but there are also a few reasons some do not use this technology. There is a concern with retinal damage when using laser welders, especially solid state machines. To counteract this, operators are encouraged to wear protective eyewear. Another concern is cracking. Metals, like high carbon steels, often crack due to the rapid cooling rate of a weld made with a laser.