Laser processing is now established as a manufacturing tool for cutting, welding and surface engineering of a wide range of materials. In all these applications the laser beam is focused down to a small spot to act as a heat source providing precise, high speed processing with low distortion. Military vehicles and equipment offer a wide range of applications for these processing techniques and TWI is ideally placed, with its unique blend of experience and laser facilities, to assist in continuing to grow this market.
Laser Welding. Laser welding is widely used in the welding of steels, aluminium and titanium alloys with up to around 50mm thickness. Advantages include high speed and low distortion, in fact heavy engineering sectors already widely using laser welding claim that the biggest advantage comes from the reduced amount of post weld rework required. This is especially important in modular construction and is estimated to reduce labour cost by up to 30%. The benefits of laser welding include.
- Low and predictable distortion.
- High completion rates.
- High quality, visually appealing welds
- Reduce post-weld rework.
The laser group at TWI has been heavily involved with the military vehicle and equipment sector, involving many of the larger companies in its successful group research programmes and also carrying out a wide range of confidential single client projects.
Laser Cutting. Laser cutting is the largest application of industrial lasers in manufacturing. Materials widely used include all grades of steel, including armour plate, aluminium alloys and titanium alloys. Laser cutting can be applied to either 2-D flat plate or 3-D components. With its computer generated path and minimal set-up time laser cutting is ideally suited to prototyping or small batch production.
Laser Surface Engineering. Other niche applications for lasers include heat treatment and cladding techniques. TWI has carried extensive work in the field of laser transformation hardening, which is ideal for localised heat treatment of critical components. Laser cladding involves the addition of typically wear resistant or corrosion resistant layers on a substrate material, with the benefit of low heat input and therefore low distortion when compared with other techniques. This process can also be used for laser repair welding of high value components.
For information about TWI's capabilities please contact us.