TWI Industrial Member Report Summary 723/2001
C A Olivier and C H J Gerritsen
The technical and economic benefits of the keyhole laser welding process are already exploited in many industries for welding of relatively thin sections, typical steels up to 6mm. Welds can be achieved via the keyhole welding mechanism and the process is characterised by high travel speeds and low heat input resulting in high production rates and low thermal distortion. For such applications, the need for the control of any laser induced plasma or plume is relatively undemanding. However, the increase use of lasers for welding thicker sections at slower speeds calls for better understanding of the gas shielding and, in particular, of ways to control the laser induced plasma.
Plasma suppression and control has already been extensively researched for high power CO2 laser welding.