The MTC has developed a revolutionary welding process in a vacuum chamber using an IPG’s D50 wobble laser head. The new process can produce defect free welds, with a 50% increase in weld penetration depth. This has resulted in a significant reduction in weld time for 304 stainless steel and exotic materials.
Laser beam welding (LBW) has been widely adopted across most industrial sectors. The advantages include ease of automation, small heat affected zone, high efficiency, high welding speed (productivity) and good flexibility. However, thicker section high value or critical components of jet engines, transmission components, superconductive material components are often electron beam (EB) welded as they benefit from deep penetration high aspect ratio welds. Aerospace component weldments in titanium and nickel based alloys also benefit from zero oxygen pick up and consequent weld embrittlement.
The MTC has developed a laser welding process under sub atmospheric pressure/ vacuum by manufacturing a low cost 1m3 portable chamber with a PC controlled Cartesian motion system for component manipulation, which enables the use of externally mounted process tools.
The process tool (IPG D50 wobble head with programmable scanning parameters) is externally mounted with the energy being delivered via a sacrificial AR coated window.
Optical contamination is a key barrier to long term production, the solution is an inert gas feed purge allowing multiple welds without intervention.
Welding trials using the developed system have shown: