Robust, Pure Laser Welding Processes for the Maritime Sector

Especially for shipbuilding and other maritime applications, the further development of thick metal sheet welding is interesting. The Laser Zentrum Hannover, together with Held Systems Deutschland, Laserline, and Meyer Werft, now wants to establish robust, pure laser welding processes for steel sheet thicknesses of up to thirty millimeters. For this purpose, diode laser beam sources are to be brought to peak performance.

New laser welding processes shall make the welding of thick metal sheets in shipbuilding more efficient and less expensive. (Source: Meyer Werft / M. Wessels)

The processes for joining maritime steel components have a great development potential in terms of production costs and productivity: The frequently used submerged arc welding is comparatively slow and involves significant workpiece distortion. Laser-arc hybrid welding, as an alternative process, requires labor-intensive edge preparation and is not very flexible.

Particularly for large steel sheet thicknesses in the range of 12 mm to 30 mm, no method has been able to prevail against submerged arc welding. The scientists at the LZH now want to change this together with their partners.

The scientists want to develop robust, pure laser welding processes, especially for thick metal sheet welding in the maritime sector. For this purpose, Laserline will realize new diode laser beam sources with a maximum output power of up to 60 kW in continuous-wave mode. The aim of the project is to achieve high-quality joints with high welding speeds. The partners want to reduce the costs for edge preparation and the amount of additional material compared to existing joining methods. In this way, costs shall ultimately be reduced. The new processes could complement or even replace the existing ones.

The application-oriented development takes place in parallel in a laser laboratory and in a shipyard-like test environment. This makes it possible to quickly test, evaluate, and optimize processes.

The partners are particularly keen to develop concepts for ensuring laser safety for very high laser output powers of up to 60 kW. This includes the handling of the expected large quantities of emitted hazardous substances. To this end, the LZH also comprehensively investigates the release of hazardous substances from the laser processing zone. (Source: LZH)

Links: Joining and Cutting of Metals Group, Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH), Hanover, Germany • HELD SYSTEMS Deutschland GmbH, Heusenstamm, Germany • Laserline GmbH, Mülheim-Kärlich, Germany • MEYER WERFT GmbH & Co. KG, Papenburg, Germany

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