Metal welding and cutting is a common operation in various industries such as automotive, aeronautics or civil engineering. Heating the metal locally welds it so it can be cut by blowing the melted material away or joined with another part with or without metal addition. Various heating techniques can be used like blowtorches, electric arcs, mechanical friction or laser light.
Laser is a common tool to cut and welt metal parts. It takes advantage of the light capacity to focus energy on a narrow surface. The absorbed energy creates a local temperature increase which melts the material.
The laser beam intensity distribution can affect the interaction between the laser spot and the material. Currently, the available laser power satisfies for most applications. The main limitation to the processing speed and quality improvement is the beam profile or beam intensity distribution.
A precisely tailored laser shape improves:
Quality: The laser interaction with metal can be improved with a tailored shaped so the melted pool is optimized. It provides clearer cuts and more homogeneous welded seams.
Speed: The laser energy use is optimized thanks to the adapted laser profile. Less laser power is wasted and can be used to increase the process speed.
The following metal processing techniques can benefit from laser beam shaping:
Coated blanks laser joining (two shaped lasers, one removes the protective layer the second joins)