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EuroBlech 2010: Laser Technology Improves Gas Metal-Arc Welding

Laser technology can be used to improve gas metal-arc welding. If a low power laser beam precedes the arc, the arc follows it, and is stabilized.

Thus, not only the welding seam quality is improved, but the welding speed can also be increased up to 100 per cent faster. This process is presently being tested for gas metal-arc deposition welding.

At the EuroBlech fair (October 26th-30th in Hannover), the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will show how laser technology can be used to improve gas metal-arc welding. Conventional gas metal-arc welding is inexpensive, but difficult to control. Since the arc naturally follows the path of least resistance between the electrode and the weld metal, the position of the weld cannot be exactly determined, which can have a negative effect on the welding results. If a low power laser beam precedes the arc, the arc follows it, and is stabilized. Thus, not only the welding seam quality is improved, but the welding speed can also be significantly increased.

This new process has already been subject to tests for conventional, high-strength and higher-strength steels, as well as for aluminium materials. At the same welding depth, the welding speed could be increased by up to 100 per cent. Also, oscillating and contoured welding seams, and complicated welding shapes can profit from this new process.

Presently, this process principle is also being tested for deposition welding. By using the so-called "laser-guided gas metal-arc deposition welding", the efforts and costs for the repair and wear protection of large sized tools can be significantly reduced. This is especially interesting for moulding tools or injection moulding tools, or for large tools used in mining or tunnel building.

"We've already reached a 100 per cent increase in speed for metal active gas welding (MAG)," says Jörg Hermsdorf, engineer at the LZH. "We hope to achieve similar results for deposition welding. A mobile system for deposition welding could be especially interesting, since repairs could then be done on site. This would eliminate the tools having to be removed or transported, which in turn lead to long down times."

This and other innovative uses of laser technology, as well as our laser experts can be found at the EuroBlech fair in Hannover, in Hall 12, Stand H 25.

The "FÜLAS" project (welding) is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Project Management Agency Karlsruhe. The project "PROGENIAL" (deposition welding) are supported by the BMBF, under project management of the Association of German Engineers.

Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
Michael Botts
Hollerithallee 8
D-30419 Hannover
Tel.: +49 511 2788-151
Fax: +49 511 2788-100
The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) carries out research and development in the field of laser technology and is supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport of the State of Lower Saxony (Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Verkehr).

Michael Botts | idw
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