How laser welding helps to win new contracts and achieves time and part costs savings
Thomas Rupp, Head of Sheet Metal Laser Welding at TRUMPF, explains, why laser welding brings enormous time and part costs savings compared to conventional welding processes and how to win new contracts with this technology.
Mr. Rupp, why should sheet metal processors look to laser welding as an alternative to conventional arc welding?
There are many reasons why laser welding is an attractive alternative to conventional welding. I should point out that a laser seam cannot always replace a MAG-welding seam; however, when using a laser is an option, it yields considerable benefits. For one thing, there are enormous time and part costs savings to be had: it’s not unusual to achieve cost reductions on a scale of more than 50 percent, and savings of as much as 80 percent are thoroughly feasible. In addition, laser welding offers an opportunity to win new contracts, as it allows part designers more freedom in their work – especially when they are looking at complete assemblies.
TRUMPF Laser welding: Time comparison – TruLaser Robot 5020 vs. MAG welding (1mm mild steel) on video:
How does laser welding save time and therefore money?
Compared to conventional welding processes, laser welding delivers superior welding seam quality. Seams produced in heat conduction welding have such a high surface quality that even visible weld seams need little to no finishing work. And deep penetration welding produces narrow, deep and therefore very strong seams. In laser welding, less heat penetrates the component than in conventional welding processes, so there is hardly any distortion. This means there is no need for downstream corrective measures. As a result, in many cases it is possible to replace whole process steps. Lasers also offer a speed advantage; deep penetration welding in particular achieves very high process speeds.
The processing time this saves has an effect on the cost per part, since every passing minute runs up machine, operating and personnel costs. Initial outlay for the programming and devices might be higher, but you quickly recoup that investment.
How can sheet metal processors use laser welding to win new contracts?
One way is that, thanks to the lower part costs, sheet metal processors can offer welded assemblies at a lower price and still turn a profit. They can also produce parts that are very difficult to make using conventional welding methods. Lasers can create a wide range of possible types of joints and seam geometries, even if the area to be welded can be accessed only from one side. Lap seams, a concealed T-joint, materials of different thicknesses – laser welding can handle them all with no problem. This opens up a host of new possibilities in part design, especially if those parts have to meet stringent functional requirements with respect to precision, tightness or weight.
Contact us: MastersofSheetMetal@trumpf.com
This article was first published in winter 2016.