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Dissimilar laser welding of aluminium and copper alloys

TWI worked for its members to solve the technical problems of joining aluminium to copper using laser welding technology. An increasing number of enquiries over the past two years from members asking for support in this area led to the successful development of a high-speed laser-technology-based solution.

An increase in manufacturing demand in the automotive industry, for example, for products with high capacity battery cells is leading to interest in the technical solutions. High capacity battery cells use aluminium and copper, as the anode and cathode terminals respectively, to improve electric current flow and boost a vehicle’s performance. Existing electrical connection joining technologies, such as ultrasonic welding and the use of direct conductive adhesives, are deemed too slow for the high demand in a manufacturing situation.

Laser welding is considered an attractive process to industry due to its high processing speed and highly repeatable, fully automated, process. However, laser welding of copper to aluminium presents several challenges. Because of the high surface reflectivity and thermal conductivity of copper, and the poor miscibility of aluminium and copper, keyhole instability and brittle intermetallic formation are common issues found when laser welding these metals.

TWI identified a successful laser-technology-based approach to address the technical challenges, and developed a high-speed (up to 20 m/min) laser welding technique that uses a high brightness laser and a narrow beam width. The project team demonstrated successful welds in a range of material thicknesses, ranging from 0.2mm up to 1mm.

The team then micro analysed the welds in-house, with positive results showing that a high-speed laser welding approach was capable of minimising the formation of the brittle intermetallic phases, and improving the electrical performance of the dissimilar joints.

For more information, please email

Avatar Paola De Bono Section Manager – Laser and Sheet Processes

Paola De Bono joined TWI in 2007, as a Project Leader and, subsequently, Senior Project Leader in the Laser and Sheet Processes Group. She has a Master Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Palermo, in Italy, and studied to gain the status of Chartered Engineer with the Italian Engineering Association. Furthermore, Paola has undertaken an Engineering Doctorate in Birmingham University, focusing on laser welding of high reflective metals thin sheets (e.g. copper and aluminium). Paola has over 7 years of specific experience in laser processing for micro-scale applications, including welding of high reflective metals and dissimilar materials applications. Since 2016, she is Team manager in the Laser and Sheet Processes Group. Her current role involves operational management of the section, supporting the delivery of the section strategy, in line with TWI’s corporate plan. Paola has become a Section Manager in 2020.

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