Product improvement requirements by Muirhead Aerospace, a leading aerospace component and actuator manufacturer, have recently prompted this TWI Industrial Member to develop welding procedures suitable for the new design.
A thin sleeve within the component was required to be joined to an external ring with excellent weld quality. How should the welding procedure for the new design be established? For an answer the company turned to TWI.
From a materials standpoint a wide range of process options were available but central to the joining problem was the presence of a strong magnet within the component which made it very difficult to use an arc or electron beam process. Laser welding however provided a solution.
TWI's involvement embraced two objectives; first, to develop a laser welding procedure for fulfilling quality requirements and second, to manufacture several prototype components.
The work was carried out using a Trumpf 4kW Nd:YAG laser fitted with a 0.6mm diameter fibre which terminated in a welding head. This focussed the laser beam to produce a small spot on the surface of the workpiece.
The welding was performed in the flat position by rotating the component in a manipulator below the fixed laser welding head. A special clamping system was designed and manufactured and an appropriate gas shielding devised to prevent oxidation of the part during welding.
The laser welding procedure was developed successfully and a number of prototype components manufactured. All welds had a smooth top bead and were free of surface defects. The joints had no discolouring and were free from spatter.
All the components welded passed additional examinations and therefore TWI were able to demonstrate that laser welding was the appropriate welding process to manufacture the components with the modified design.
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