Remote laser welding (RLW) is a metal joining technology that involves a multi-kilowatt laser beam, an industrial robot and a laser scanning system working in combination to rapidly produce a sequence of overlap welds across a work piece with minimum non-productive time. The scanner permits the time between each weld to be reduced to fractions of a second, enabling more joints to be made within the given cycle time (up to 400% more); the robot allows the scanner to be placed where needed around the parts to be welded, reducing the number of re-orientation operations of the part.
RLW is a non-contact process, and with the high welding speeds available, the produced parts can demonstrate improved dimensional stability when compared to parts produced using more traditional metal joining technologies. An increased rate of work can enable a significant reduction of the equipment and tooling required to manufacture assemblies, and consequently a reduction in floor area can be realised (typically 50-75% compared to traditional assembly systems).
The capital equipment required for the process can represent a significant investment, therefore for every application the business case must be carefully considered. For some applications, the equipment utilisation, or process advantages are insufficient to justify such expenditure. For many application however, RLW can offer significant cost, quality and design benefits compared to traditional joining technologies.
Reduction of non-production cycle time:
- Increased work per cycle
- Increased through-put
- Reduced cycle time
Improved joint performance can enable a reduction of joints per part:
- Reduction of cycle time
Energy efficient process:
- Can reduce energy costs, even compared to Resistance Spot Welding
Reduced system footprints, reduced equipment and tooling:
- Reduced overhead costs
Single-sided process enables improved flexibility of product design:
- Part flange widths can be reduced (from circa 18mm to 7mm)
- Can be used to weld closed structures (e.g. sheet to tube)
Improved dimensional stability:
- Low overall thermal input to the part
- Non-contact process