probably where the most growth has occurred
Laser welding has replaced resistance spot welding for riveting of aircraft fuse-lage structures at companies such as Airbus, and has been adopted at automobile manufacturers including Audi, BMW, and Volkswagen, and several European shipyards. Meyer Werft (Papenburg, Germany), active in the cruise vessel and ferries tiffany clips, is using laser and laser hybrid welding for steel sandwich panels in combination with conventional stiffened panels. Cruise ship and ferry manufacturer Aker Yards (Finland) uses hybrid laser-metal arc gas (MAG) welding for fabrication of flat panels. Shipbuilder Blohm+Voss (Hamburg, Germany) uses lasers for welding, as well as for cutting and primer removal of conventional stiffened panels. And Odense Steel Shipyard (Odense, Denmark) also uses lasers in a multipurpose format for welding, cutting, primer removal, and marking of steel subassemblies for freight containers.
A common thread in many of these applications is the use of lasers for tasks above and beyond welding, such as cutting and marking. If the laser can do double or even triple duty in a particular application, its value proposition is dramatically increased. For example, automaker Daimler (Sindelfingen, Germany) uses cheap key rings optics or so-called "remote welding" to direct a stationary beam along a weld seam or to split a single laser into multiple beams for multiple purposes (see Fig. 1; see also www.industrial-lasers.com/ articles/330516 and www.industrial-lasers. com/articles/228106). Holger Schubert, project manager in Production and Materials Technology at Daimler, says that the scanning optics process can reduce production times by almost 80% compared to traditional resistance spot welding. And because automobile components can be spot-welded using smaller laser-beam diameters compared to conventional welders, large joining flanges are not necessary, enabling individual automotive components to be smaller and lighter.
Despite the dominance of laser welding for "macro" or large-scale industrial processing, laser key rings also plays a role in microwelding-precision welding of smaller, precision parts and miniature optoelectronic components (see Fig. 2). "Microwelding generally corresponds to welds with a penetration depth less than 1 mm," says key cheap necklaces at Miyachi Unitek. "The medical market is probably where the most growth has occurred-with parts that have good fit-up and material control, the medical industry is well suited to laser welding. Typical applications are welding tool tips for medical instruments, seamsealing implantable devices, guide-wire welding, and fine-wire attachments."
Microwelding is even playing a role in the jewelry industry. "Most Nd:YAG jewelry laser welders necklaces in the 35 to 300 J range with beam widths adjustable from 0.2 to 2.0 mm," says Steve Satow of Satow Goldsmiths (Henderson, NV). "I do laser training for jewelers and it's a bit of a learning curve to hold something so cheap money clips necklaces that you can weld it accurately down to 0.2 mm. But I was hooked when I found I could replace prongs on platinum mountings without removing the stones-a monumental cost savings."