Choosing the Right Laser Welding Machine

Laser welding is a non-contact process that allows metal parts to be assembled mainly by means of a laser beam.

This type of welding is suitable for applications that require high speeds and for thin welding with low thermal distortion.

The speed of this process, as well as the ability to control the quality of welding during the operation and its high level of automation, make laser welding a widely used method in many industrial sectors such as the medical industry, electronics, tool making and the automotive sector.

View laser welding machines

  • Why choose a laser welding machine?

    Laser welding machines have several advantages:

    • They are very fast:
      • The laser allows the metal to be heated extremely quickly, while limiting the risk of deformation.
      • This technology is particularly effective for welding large quantities of sheet metal and is therefore widely used in the automotive industry.
    • They are also highly accurate:
      • They allow a localized, very fine, very clean, almost invisible welding.
      • They are particularly suitable for welding small parts.
      • This type of welding is very popular in the dental and jewellery industries as it provides the most aesthetic welding possible.
      • It is also possible to split the laser beam into several beams to provide welding that is even more accurate.
    • They can be adapted to a wide variety of part shapes and materials:
      • Laser welding machines are mainly used to weld metals, including refractory metals.
      • It is also possible to weld non-metallic parts with them, such as porcelain and glass.
      • You can use them to weld parts with very different shapes.
    • They do not wear out:
      • Laser welding machines operate without contact, so there is no risk of wear and tear on the machine.
      • There is also no need to change tools or electrodes, which is a definite advantage in terms of waste reduction.
    • They can be given orders digitally:
      • It is now possible to control the quality of the welding from a computer during the welding process.
      • The high level of automation allowed by such a process also makes it possible to detect and solve any quality problems.

    However, it should be noted that laser welding machines also have certain disadvantages:

    • The costs of installing laser equipment are still very high.
    • This technology requires high assembly accuracy during processing to avoid laser beam deflections on the parts.
    • The laser weld is thinner than that obtained with electron beams, making the process unsuitable for welding high reflective metal.

    Laser welding machine advantages:

    • Speed
    • Precision
    • Flexibility
    • Durability
    • Automation
  • Pulsed or continuous laser?

    Your laser welding machine can be equipped with one of the following two types of lasers: a pulsed laser or a continuous laser. The choice of one over the other depends on the thickness of the material you want to weld.

    • The pulsed laser:
      • It is suitable for metals that are light and thin.
      • It prevents them from being deformed or melted.
      • This type of pulsed laser is mainly used to weld sheet metal, razor blades, gold jewelry chain links and titanium pacemakers.
    • The continuous laser:
      • It is recommended for welding thick parts.
      • It is particularly effective on refractory metals.
      • It can pose problems if it is used on metal or a part that is too thin. In these cases the laser could damage, deform or melt the part.
      • It is more expensive than a pulsed laser, but it also reduces operating costs.
  • How to choose the laser beam source?

    There are three types of sources: fiber laser, CO2 laser and Nd:YAG laser. The choice of source depends on the type of laser you have chosen (pulsed or continuous).

    • The fiber laser:
      • This technology is based on sharp and thin beams that allow continuous and penetrative work to be carried out.
      • Like the CO2 laser, the fiber laser can penetrate thick sheets with great speed and efficiency.
      • It is easier to integrate into a machine than other lasers both in terms of use and maintenance.
      • This laser offers an average efficiency of 25%.
    • The CO2 laser:
      • This technology uses a gas mixture of carbon dioxide, helium and nitrogen that is electrically-excited and optimized for continuous operation.
      • Like the fiber laser, the CO2 laser can penetrate thick sheets with great speed and efficiency.
      • It is more effective at penetrating thick steel parts than the fiber laser so it is more widely used.
      • It is more flexible and can penetrate thicker and lighter materials than the fiber laser.
      • This laser offers an average efficiency of 7% for 8,000 W.
    • The Nd:YAG laser:
      • It allows effective control of the power, duration and shape of the laser pulses.
      • It is optimized for pulsed mode.
      • But it emits pulses of very different wavelengths that do not all reach their target and then dissipate in the form of heat.
      • This type of laser is less energy efficient (3 to 4% efficiency) than CO2 lasers (7 to 10%) and fiber lasers (25 to 30%).
  • What parameters should be checked?

    Before using your laser welding machine, you will need to verify several parameters. Here are some common precautions to take to ensure that your welding operations are a success.

    • Adjust energy
      • It is important to adjust the energy appropriately in order to adapt the power to the process.
      • This will prevent energy waste.
    • Ensure that you have the correct beam diameter
      • The diameter affects the welding performance.
      • We recommend that you choose a laser beam with a diameter between 0.2 and 2 mm.
    • Check the pulse frequencies
      • Pulse frequencies that are too high result in pulse energies that are too low making the welding less efficient or even inefficient.
    • Monitor the waveform of laser pulses
      • We recommend that you change the waveform according to the metal you intend to weld.
      • If you use an inadequate waveform, 60% to 98% of the laser energy will be lost and your welding operation will fail.
  • Which configuration should I choose for my welding machine?

    There are 3 types of configurations available for welding machines:

    • Manual configuration
    • Semi-automatic configuration
    • Automatic configuration

    The choice of configuration depends on:

    • Your production (small-scale or large?)
    • How you want to arrange your workstation

    Rofin Laser Micro manual laser welding machine

    Manual welding machines

    • They are more compact than semi-automatic and automatic machines.
    • They are equipped with manual or automatic doors.
    • The operator is in charge of the sequence of parts to be welded.
    • These machines are suitable for small-scale production.

    GEM Laser semi-automatic laser welding machine

    Semi-automatic laser welding machines

    • They are larger than manual welding machines.
    • They are equipped with turntables.
    • These machines are ideal for medium and large-scale production.

    Foshan Beyond Laser Technology automatic laser welding machine

    Automatic laser welding machines

    • These are the largest.
    • They are robotized and automatically manage the positioning of the part under the laser source.
    • Human intervention is reduced, which relieves the operator.
    • They are ideal for large-scale production.
    • They enable gains in productivity.
    • The presence of an automatic loading and unloading station reduces downtime.
    • On the other hand, they are much more expensive.
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  • Franklin White says:

    I think it’s cool how laser welders can be used for a variety of different metals and refractory metals. I want to get into welding as a hobby. I think it could be a ton of fun and maybe I can make a career out of it once I am retired.

  • Thomas says:

    Thanks for this in-depth review. I need a welder machine and it should be good I have no idea about welder-machine.
    So I saw you write about this he said which one is better and mentioned something below Thank you for that.

  • Arcosafe best welding jacket says:

    I have never seen a laser weld before but I think this might be the future of welding. The way I see it will provide a welder a much better output.

  • Fabrication Auckland says:

    These are some great information that you have shared herechoosing the right laser welding machine.I really loved it and thank you very much for sharing this with us. You have a great visualization and you have really presented this content in a really good manner.

  • Devesh says:

    Welding is hard and can also be time-consuming. You can’t just weld metal without proper knowledge of using a welding machine. When you cant handle a welding machine you must always seek professionals’ help. It is better to be safe than doing such a risky task for a beginner.

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