Laser Welding Machines: Increasing Precision in Manufacturing

Laser welding cutting using an automatic welder It hasn’t been 100 years since our use of high-tech laser technology, particularly laser welding machines. Today, we’ve been reaping the advantages and benefits of laser welders in many different fields.

For this blog, we will discuss the increasing precision of laser welding machines in manufacturing. You’ll learn the know-hows of laser welders, as well as a few of the main advantages of one! By the end of this article, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on laser welders immediately!

Can Lasers Perform Welding?

I know what you’re thinking, would lasers be able to perform welding? Are they reliable to perform the fusion of two or more metals? We’ll go further down the answer to that question later, but to answer, yes, lasers can perform welding. They are, in fact, better than old traditional ways of welding.

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Welding Before Laser Welders

Before lasers, traditional welding techniques involved metal and tungsten to weld components together. This started as early as the 1800s when metal and carbon arc were developed. Fast-forward to more than a century, gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) and gas metal arc welding (GMAW) were discovered.

In case you didn’t know, laser welding machines broke through the market in the 1960s. Theodore H. Maiman was responsible for the introduction of laser welders in the scene. The discovery of laser welding was alongside the development of lasers, too, which was originally for communications.

Today, many manufacturers choose and enjoy the advantages and benefits of laser welding. Because it’s the newest, the costs and prices are often higher than traditional means.

A Deeper Dive Into the Increasing Precision in Manufacturing

Let’s skip the how-to’s and unclear facts about how welding was. Let’s go deeper and discuss how welding looked like in the early times. Let’s go through each welding type in order, from the first means and types of welding up to how we know the process today.

Forge Welding

From the middle-ages when blacksmiths used molten metal and hammers to craft swords, forge welding has been around older than you think. Historians want to say that it’s “forge” welding since it’s using the art of forgery, but don’t be confused; the welding process we know today wasn’t developed until the 19th century.

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Arc Welding

In the 1800s, people discovered that two carbon electrodes can produce an arc and work as welders. Thus, the idea of arc welding was born. Decades that followed were the times when gas cutting and welding were found and unearthed.

In 1890, the patent for an arc welder that uses a metal electrode was awarded to C.L., Coffin of Detroit.

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Gas Welding

During the late 1800s, inventors and researchers were trying the possibility of gas welding. But, it was in the 1900s that they were able to perfect the process. Scientists and inventors during this period found that direct air helped in welding much more than they imagined.

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From the 1900s until the 1950s, several important techniques have been developed. Some of which include:

  • The use of tungsten arc in the welding process
  • Gas shielding methods and techniques
  • Using heavy-coated electrodes
  • Discovering submerged arc welding processes
  • And many more!

Comparing Welding Before and After Laser Welders

I’m not sure if you know this, but even before the term “welding,” was coined, our ancestors already knew the process. They had this idea that when they heat metals, it can be soft and malleable, and can be fused or joined together.

Have you seen videos of how swords are forged and made? Well, it follows the same process, and it is called forge welding. People would heat metal until it reaches its molten state, and then form it using power and force.

Decades and centuries went by, and the idea of fusing or combing metals grew stronger. It made more sense to people that welding is a need, especially in mass production. To help you gain better understanding of that, here’s a table that discuss it.

Forge Welding Arc Welding Gas Welding Laser Welding
Energy Source Manual labor in energy; the heat is from the forge. Electric arc from two electrodes. Gas flame. Laser beam (fiber, CO2, or diode lasers)
Period of Introduction < 1000 years ago. 19th century (late). 20th century (early). Mid-to-late 20th century.
Compatibility Selected metals. Selected metals (more options). Compatible with most metals. Can be used for all metals, including plastics, and ceramics, too.
Accuracy and Precision Low Moderate to high Moderate Very high
Heat Input High High High Low
Speed of Operations Slow Moderate Fast Extremely fast
Maintenance High maintenance Decent maintenance levels Moderate maintenance Low maintenance
Cost Low cost Low cost Moderate cost Expensive
Distortion Significant and obvious distortions Significant distortions Moderate to significant Minimal distortion
Post-Welding Requirement Required Required Sometimes required Rarely required

Understanding Laser Welding Machines

Before we dive deep into how it transformed manufacturing, let’s closely take a look at what it is. Laser welders are machines that use high-intensity light beams that are precisely and accurately focused to melt and fuse material.

Scientists and researchers grew curious about how lasers were able to emit the right amount of heat to melt metal, and thus, creating a weld that is strong and ultimately reliable.

The Benefits of Laser Welding: Increasing Precision in Manufacturing

Probably the most common advantage of laser welding is the increased and consistent accuracy and precision in welding. Since their breakthrough in the market, welds have become better and higher quality, saw minimal distortion, and the ability to weld even the smallest and most complex units.

But, enough of what we already know. Let’s now go through some of the other pros that laser welding machines brought to the manufacturing world.

  • Minimal-to-No Impact on Nearby Surfaces
  • No-to-Low Post-Weld Costs and Expenses
  • Faster and Speedier Operations
  • Flexible and Versatile

Handheld Laser Welding Machine Banner

How Laser Welders Increase Manufacturing Accuracy and Precision

The transformative pivoting of manufacturing since the dawn of laser welding machines was progressing upward. It has forged and shaped the manufacturing industry to what we know of it today, and it will continue growing in the coming years, thanks to progressive innovation and development.

Its accuracy and precision can all be taken, thanks to the focused heat area it has during operations. Unlike metal electrode which can take up millimeters in diameter, or forge welding that doesn’t really have focus spots, laser welding will only work on the spots you want and need to work on.

Automation of Laser Welders

Let us not forget one of the newest additions to the welding family–artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. Many companies have automated their laser welding processes to the extent that people were only needed for checking and assessment.

We no longer require manpower to perform the welding itself – it’s done by machines, robots, artificial intelligence (AI), you name it.