Innovative welding or bonding processes in e.g. automobile manufacturing require perfectly pre-treated surfaces.
Depending on the task, release agents and oils must be removed without harming the underlying component or the surface must be prepared with a specific roughness in order to produce a reliable joint.
Current surface preparation processes using wet chemicals or abrasive blasting media often require time consuming masking of parts or to expose the entire part to the process - even if only selected areas require processing.
This drives up the total process cost and makes cleaning more complex than it needs to be.
Weld preparation and weld cleaning are vital in the steel processing industry. A laser system can effortlessly be built into an existing process or production line, speeding up the complete process. Weld preparation is a crucial step before actually placing a weld and can be done with surface cleaning. Laser cleaning on mild steel welds is challenging, when we have a the thick, black 'slack' that is formed during the welding process, but on small surfaces it works without any problems.
The effects of good weld preparation is determined by porosity. Comparing good and bad weld preparation, meaning all oxides were eliminated via surface cleaning on one part, and no cleaning was performed on another one results in: After good surface cleaning by laser you can see a lower porosity as a result of good surface cleaning. The less porosity in a weld, the less chance it will break over time. High speeds can be reached when preparing and cleaning the welds on aluminium, which makes laser cleaning a very effective solution.
Stainless steel is as suitable for weld preparation and cleaning as aluminium. You can reach cleaning speeds varying from 1m to 1.5m per second. These speeds match up to common welding speeds, so it is easy to include a new laser cleaning system in an existing line. Needless to say is the fact that it is a very clean method, in comparison to traditional techniques as for example the use of chemical solvents.
In comparison, lasers provide significant advantages that quickly provide pay back of the initial investment:
Selective cleaning: lasers allow to work precisely where cleaning is needed – without masking
No post-processing - no demasking, no drying, no blast dust removal
Dry process: lasers work without any consumable cost for cleaning media and eliminate the need to recycle large amounts of cleaning by products from water or blasting dust