Laser beam welding (LBW) is a technique in which multiple layers of metal can be joined using a laser. The precision of the laser allows for narrow, deep welds. This process of welding has become an industry standard in the automotive field.
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The use of a laser in the welding process can be used on many different types of metals, such as, aluminum, stainless steel, titanium and carbon steels. The ability to be used on multiple types of metals is what has made it such a popular method to use in the manufacturing of automobiles.
There are two types of lasers involved in the process of laser beam welding. A solid-state laser, which operates on the order of 1 micrometer; the solid-state laser uses a single crystal shaped rod which is surrounded by a flash tube which contains either xenon or krypton. Because high intense flashes produced by this method of welding, it is recommended that workers wear special eyewear or screens to reduce the chance of retina damage.
The other type of laser welding is those that use a gas laser. A gas laser uses a high-voltage, low-current power source. A gas laser can be operated in either a continuous or pulsed mode. There is a much higher power output on a gas laser than there is when using a solid-state laser.
Even though both of these welding methods are predominantly machine operated, it is important that anyone who has any contact with these welding operations follow the proper safety precautions set forth to protect all welders. The use of a welding helmet and gloves is always recommended to prevent any retinal damage or burns.
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