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Laser Material Processing

Laser Material Processing

Laser Power = 1- 5kW Focal spot diameter = 10-5000micron Laser Power Density = 103- 1012 W/cm2 Surface Transformation Hardening Metal Forming Melting Welding, Metal Cutting Assist Gas Surface Re-solidification, Glazing Surface Alloying External Surface Cladding Materials Vaporization Drilling Holes Cutting of non-metals e.g. Ceramics, Wood, Concrete, Glass etc. Surface cleaning, Paint stripping Ablation with Ultra short Laser Pulses Hi-precision drilling & Cutting Plasma Formation Laser Peening Heating

Laser beam incident on a metal surface

Reflection Scattering Absorption Transmission Above phenomena will depend on Type of material (metal, semiconductor, insulator), and its thermo-physical characterizes, surface condition, Laser parameters (wavelength, pulse duration, polarization, power density) Laser Radiation Absorbed in metals, impurities in Semiconductor materials by Free electrons & then transferred to ions & lattice ( Pyrolitic / Heating) Conduction band In Semiconductor materials * Interband absorption by electrons in valance band, h



Valance band

Lattice Vibration or Optical phonon excitation near Infrared (Si-O bonds): Glass, Quartz, etc at 10 m In organic polymers , UV Laser: h > EB Direct bond breaking: Photolytic reaction * Inhomogenity of wavelength scale: Ceramics, Multiple reflection & absorption at grain boundary

Laser beam

Reflection and Absorption of Laser Radiation in a material : Govern by refractive index which is usually complex Complex Refractive Index : n* = n + ik Reflectivity at normal incidence R = [(n-1)2 +k2] / [(n+1)2 +k2] Absorptivity, A = 1- R -T Tansmitivity, T = 0 in Opaque materials Absorption or Attenuation coefficient = 4k/ ; Light intensity attenuated by 1/e in a length given by the attenuation length / Optical Skin Depth la = 1/ = / 4k

I = I0 e -z

In most metals, k,> n R is large ( >90%), A is small ( <5-10%), la is very small (a few nm range) and laser beam is absorbed within this thin layer (skin depth) at the surface.

Reflectivity of Different Metals

100 80 60 40 20 Ni Au Cu 0 Room Temperature Al

Ta Excimer

Nd:YAG Diode 1.0




Laser Wavelength Dependence

Wavelength m

Reflectance & Absorption in different materials

Materials Aluminum la R 0.25 m 0.5m 1.06 m 10.6 m 8nm 92% 7nm 42% >1cm 6% 7nm 92% 15nm 49% >1cm 4% 10nm 94% 200 m 38% >1cm 4% 12nm 98% >1cm 36% 40m 20%

Germanium la R Silica, SiO2 la R

Absorption with Temperature

Absorption, A 0.365 / (0)0.5 Temperature 100 80 60 40 20 0 CO2 Melting Point Boiling Point Temperature YAG

0 Electric Conductivity , A

Laser Interaction at High Intensity

Laser Energy = 100mJ, Pulse duration = 1ns Focal spot diameter = 50m, Intensity I = 4.1012 W/cm2 Electric Field = 27.I1/2 = 50MV /cm Ionization by Intense Electric Field Multiple Ionization by Avalanche process Multiphoton Absorption Plasma Formation Laser Absorption by Plasma Heat conduction from plasma to the surface Laser Processing of Dielectric Materials & Ionization

Laser Beam is reflected, scattered, absorbed, transmitted in a material
Laser radiation is first absorbed by free-electrons in a metal and their energy and temperature increases. Heated electrons share their energy with ions and lattice vibrations, and thus the material gets heated up. In metals laser radiation is absorbed within 10s nm depth of metal surface Further heating by thermal diffusion In metals laser radiation of any wavelength is absorbed by free-electrons present in them. Interaction of Laser Beam depends upon laser wavelength, Polarization, Intensity and interaction time In semiconductors, laser radiation of photon energy (h) more than the band gap energy ( between Valance & Conduction bands) is absorbed. Si-O bonds in glass, quartz absorb around 10 m radiation Laser radiation could get absorbed during multiple reflections at grainboundaries in ceramics At very high intensities laser beam can be absorbed by nonlinear processes in any material including transparent materials.

Physical phenomena at increasing Laser Intensity





Heating of Surface layer Surface Hardening,


Cutting, Conduction Metal Forming welding

Formation of Plasma Ionization of Drilling, Vapor & gas, Deep penetration Shock welding hardening, Laser Peening Formation of Keyhole

Principle characteristics of laser material processing

Keyhole welding Surface Alloying, Cladding Metal Forming

Summary of Laser Power Density for Various Laser Material Processing: Laser Processing Laser Heat Transformation: Laser Cutting: Laser Welding: Laser Drilling: Laser Surafce Re-melting: Laser Alloying & Cladding: Laser Shock Hardening: Typical Laser Power Density 103 5.104 W/cm2 5.104 - 107W/cm2 5.104 - 6.106W/cm2 5.106-108 W/cm2 5.105- 107 W/cm2 5.104- 5.105 W/cm2 108- 5.109 W/cm2 Typical Laser Interaction Time 1-10-2s 10-1-10-3s 10-1-10-3s 10-3-10-5s 10-4-10-7s 10-2-10-3s 10-6-10-8s

Laser Material Processing Parameters Laser Beam: Power (CW, Pulsed, Modulated) Mode, Polarization, Wavelength Processing gas Type of gas & Pressure

Assist gas Composition Pressure Velocity Focal Spot Size Focal spot position Stand-off distance

Nozzle: Conical, Cylindrical, Supersonic

Relative motion, Direction w.r.t. Beam Polarization Material Properties , Surface condition Laser Material Interaction Gas molten pool interaction Forces on molten pool: Marangoni type

Laser Material ProcessingLaser Thermal Effects

A laser beam focused on a material generates very high power density capable of heating, melting & vaporizing any material. The above feature has been utilized for various manufacturing operations, with unique advantages over conventional methods

Major Application Areas:

Cutting: wide range of materials without regard to their hardness Welding: autogenous welding of similar & dissimilar materials, narrow HAZ Surface Hardening: localized treatment, little distortion, self-quenching Surface Alloying & Cladding: Modified microstructure with improved characteristics, very little dilution in cladding Drilling : Small holes in hard, brittle materials, heat sensitive alloys Marking: Finished products of any material- plastics, ceramics, metal

General Scheme of Energy flow in Laser treatment process

PL = PR + PA PR Pconv

Prad Pchem

Ppro Pcon

PL = PR + PA = R.PL + A. PL PA + Pchem = Ppro + Pred + Pconv + Pcon

Laser Cutting
Laser cutting dominants the industrial laser applications & has more than 75% of share of all LM applications. Basic Principle : Melting with a focused laser beam and molten material ejection by a high pressure gas jet. CO2 Laser (10.6), NdYAG & Fiber Lasers (1.06) Laser Power = 500-5000W Circularly or randomly polarized laser Focal spot size ~ 0.1 0.3 mm Power density of 1kW power at focal spot of 0.3mm ~ 1.4 X106W/cm2 Effect on material * Melting * Vaporization Pressurized co-axial gas jet ejects the molten / vaporized material

Methods of Laser cutting:

Melt and blow :
Inert gas cutting, e.g: Ti, SS, Al etc. Cutting realised by melting material by laser beam and blowing off the molten material by a high pressure gas jet * Melting

* Melt ejection by gas jet

Melt, burn and blow : Oxygen assist gas cutting, e.g: MS, SS etc.) 40-60 % energy from oxidation Vaporization : High peak-power pulsed laser cutting or Materials which do not melt e.g: wood, plastics

Cut Kerf

Cold cutting : * Cutting by high power Excimer laser in UV range * Bond energy of organic materials ~ few eV * If Photon energy > Bond Energy * Photon absorption leads to breaking of bonds * No heating

Operating Parameters in Laser Cutting: Laser Beam Properties: Power, pulsed or CW, Spot size and mode, Polarization, Wavelength Transport Properties: Speed, Focal position, Cutting Nozzle: Type of nozzle (Cylindrical, Conical, Supersonic), Size of nozzle opening, Stand-off distance Cutting Gas Properties: Composition (Inert or reactive), Pressure / velocity Material Properties: Composition, Surface condition, Thickness & Thermo-physical Properties

Dependence of Laser Cutting Speed on material thickness at different laser power * High power : Fast cutting speed * High power : Higher Sheet Thickness

Power/Unit Thickness W/mm

Ti with Ar 14J/mm2 304SS with N2 8J/mm2 MS with O2 5J/mm2 Ti with O2 3J/mm2









Cutting Speed mm/s

Laser Fusion Cutting,

v w t
Energy balance equation: No conduction loss P = w.t.v. (Cp.Tm + Lf + mLv) Cutting speed, v = P / {w.t. (Cp.Tm + Lf )} P/v.t = w. (Cp.Tm + Lf ) / = Constant for a constant w & a given material Called as Severance Energy (J/mm2) With conduction loss & oxidation energy V = P(1-R) / {w.t. (Cp.Tm + Lf )} + .hox.vox / 2t 1.2K .Tm/ w.t. hox Oxidation enthalpy, vox- Oxidation speed = (1-R) Laser Power Coupling coefficient P = Laser power t = thickness w = kerf width v = cutting speed Lf = latent heat of fusion Lv = latent heat of vaporization m=Fraction of metal evaporated = density T = Temperature raise Cp = Specific Heat

Energy Balance: M.R.R.

P = wtV {c p T + L f + m Lv }
t w V

t w V

Lower value (J/ mm2)

Higher value (J/ mm2)

M.S + O2 M.S + N2 S.S + Ar Cardboard

4 7 8 0.2

13 22 20 1.7

Parametric dependence: * Laser cutting speed V increases with Laser power for a given job thickness t * With increased laser power thicker material can be cut at same speed.

Process Capability:
All most all materials e.g. metal, non-metals like ceramics, glass, concrete, rubber, fiber-glass, plastics, textile, lather etc. can be cut by lasers. Steel sheets of thickness 25mm can be cut at 1-2m/min Speed with high power (2-4kW) CO2 , Nd:YAG and Fiber lasers and O2 gas assist. Integrated with CNC machine it can cut any complex contour. Severance Energy gives an idea of the material removal rate for a given laser power.

Practical Applications:
Automobile industries, Rail-coach factory, Ordnance factory, Textile, Leather, Furniture, Ship-building, Nuclear and Aerospace industries, and many mechanical & metallurgical engineering job shops are using lasers in their production line to cut variety of materials. Cutting of diamonds is one of the most popular applications in India.

Advantages of the process:

All most all type of materials Narrow Kerf width
High Accuracy Low HAZ High productivity Low noise Low roughness Easy to cut hard materials No problem of tool wear Easy to produce complex Profiles Straight cut edges with sharp corners Cut edges can be welded without further machining Very low distortion High flexibility in 3D cutting

Major Limitations:

High capital cost

Cutting of high reflective materials Cutting thicker metals > 1 inch.

Laser Drilling
Laser drilling has found successful manufacturing applications in the automotive, aerospace, energy, electronics, medical, and consumer goods industries. Lasers make it possible to machine very small holes, unusual shaped holes, and precisely tapered holes. They are used to drill holes at steep angles, and to process difficult-to-machine materials. A single setup can produce hundreds of different sizes over a 3D surface.

Cross section of a Rolls-Royce Tay aero-engine

ECD and EDM have typically drilling speeds of 1-10 mm/min, but several holes can be drilled at the same time, using multiple electrodes. Electron Beam Drilling (EBD) is fast, but needs a vacuum chamber. Controlled energy input laser drilling offers fast drilling typically 1-10 mm/sec.

Laser Drilling

Material Removal: Evaporation & Melt Ejection Laser: Q-switched Nd:YAG Laser ( tp ~ 10-100ns) for most metals CO2 laser for non-metals Excimer laser for organic materials, plastics etc. (by directly bond-breaking so-called cold process Photon Energy h > Bond Energy of Materials

Lasers for Drilling Applications:

Pulsed Nd:YAG lasers are the predominant type used in laser drilling. Laser Pulse Energy = 1-100J, Pulse Duration = 2-20ms Q-switched Nd:YAG laser pulses of 10s ns pulse duration are also used for precision hole drilling. CO2 lasers have also found many successful applications, particularly in nonmetals. Excimer Lasers are used to drill holes and micromachining in organic materials by directly bond-breaking so-called cold process

Energy balance considerations

Laser Energy =U

Drilling with Ultra-short (Femtoseconds) Laser Pulses:

Laser Pulse Duration < Electron-Ion Thermalization Time Without melting ablated going through materials get

Electrons are stripped out & Plasma is formed. High velocity electrons drag out ions along, effecting material removal

Comparison of Laser Drilling with EDM & Other Mechanical Drilling Processes
EDM No taper, large depth and low equipment cost Mechanical drilling Large diameter, large depth, low equipment cost Laser drilling High throughput, no drill wear/breakage, noncontact, small HAZ, wide range of materials, low operating cost

Advanta ges

Slow drilling rate, long setup time, high Disadvan operating cost, tages limited range of materials

Drill wear/breakage, low throughput, difficult to drill small holes, limited materials

Hole taper, limited depth and diameter, recast layer

Laser Welding of workpiece


Laser Beam

of Laser Welding Process





Laser Welding of workpiece

1. Laser Conduction Welding* Joining of thin metal sheets * Laser power densities: Relatively low < 5x105 W/cm2. * Two metal surfaces melt and * Full thickness melts due to heat conduction from top hot surface.
Laser Beam Solid Liquid Isotherms

Conduction Welding - Thermal Diffusivity

- Laser Interaction Time = Laser pulse duration = Laser dwell time = Beam diameter d/Welding speed v In conduction welding the depth to width aspect ration is about 1.5.

2. Deep Penetration / Keyhole Welding Thicker sheets (>3mm): Higher Laser Power At intensities > 106 W/cm2, a small amount of metal vaporizes & plasma is formed. Escaping vapour exerts a recoil pressure on the molten pool creating a key hole Laser beam is absorbed in the hole in multiple reflections and in metal vapour plasma and heat is transmitted to the work-piece through the walls of the hole. Deep penetratio Welding Aspect ratio in Keyhole welding = 3-5 Scan velocity determines the shape of keyhole and cooling rate determines the microstructure of weldmet

Operating parameters
Beam characteristics Beam Power & Power Density Beam Power distribution, i.e. Mode Polarization Mode of operation: CW, Pulsed Process Parameters Beam diameter & focus Material Properties Joint Geometries: Butt, Lap Gap Tolerance Welding Speed Shielding / Shroud gas

Parameter effect: Laser Power Density

Keyhole welding Conduction welding

Beam Power & Scan speed

1 kW of laser power per mm thickness is needed to weld at 1 m/min. Energy Balance Equation: CL.(1-R). PL =V.w.t. .(Cp.Tm + Lf) where CL = 0.48 to account for conduction loss; V-Welding speed, w-weld-width, t-weld-thickness & others are material properties.

Laser Welding Advantages Can be used in open air Can be transmitted over long distances with a minimal power loss Narrow heat affected zone (HAZ) Low total thermal input Welds dissimilar metals No filler metals necessary: Autogenous Weld No secondary finishing necessary Extremely accurate Welds high alloy metals without difficulty Laser Welding Limitations Rapid cooling rate may cause cracking in certain metals High capital cost High maintenance cost

Laser Welding Applications Automobile Sector (> 65% ) Tailored welded blanks for automobile body blanks. Welding of Transmission components gears, various coupling & differentials Specialized applications Hydraulic bearing thrust units Joining of Diamond or WC impregnated steels to tool tips. Welding of thin fins to high finned tube heat exchangers. Welding of pipelines Welding of bimetallic saw blades Repair of nuclear boiler from inside Spot welding in TV tubes Welding of heart-pacemaker

Laser Surface Treatment

*Laser Surface Transformation Hardening: Heating up to desired depth beyond
phase transformation temperature and rapid cooling by heat conduction (Self-quenching)Microstructure charges- Surface properties e.g. micro-hardness wear resistance increase

* Laser Melting & Re-solidification: Melting up to desired depth and rapid coolingGrain refinement, homogenization of microstructure improves surface characteristics (wear, corrosion resistance)

* Laser Surface Alloying: Surface melting along with alloying materials * Laser Surface Cladding: Deposition of powder with metallurgical bond with surface

Need for Surface Treatment

To improve Hardness, Strength, Wear resistance, Corrosion resistance and Fatigue life Particular parts of surfaces which are vulnerable

Laser Surface Treatment- classifications

1) 2)



Transformation in steel : basics

At room temperature, plain carbon steels :a mixture of a bodycentered cubic phase (Ferrite) and an iron carbide phase. At eutectoid temperature (727 C): Carbides and Ferrite dissolve into a single face-centered cubic phase called Austenite. Austenite ()
FCC 0.8 %

Ferrite () + Cementite (Fe3C)

BCC 0.02% Orthorhombic 6.67%

Under slow cooling conditions, high-temperature Austenite phase reverts to the ferrite and carbide structure. No If cooling rate is more than 103-104 K/s: compositional Austenite () Martensite () change or
FCC 0.8 % BCT 0.8%


In fast cooling Carbon tends to move- Distortion in Lattice Structure Compressive stress at the surface: Increased Hardness

Advantages of Laser Hardening

Precise control of Heat Input to Localized Areas Minimum Distortion Hard to reach areas can be Heat Treated if a line of sight exists No Quenchants required- Self Quenching Time Efficient Process No post processing required

Limitation of Laser Hardening

Limited depth of hardening : 0.1-2mm Not enough time to become homogenous, equilibrium at temperature: Laser hardening-only of relatively homogeneous materials with narrow layers

Laser Rapid Manufacturing

Layer by layer powder deposition 1) Dynamic powder blowing (laser Cladding)
CAD Model Making Laser Processing LRM Component

Methodology ?
Object + Imaging system Designer+ 3D CAD S/W Math data + Analysis Slicing Job manipulation Matl deposition Ready to use Machining Annealing

2) Preplaced powder bed type (Sintering)

Sintering Process

Summary: By controlling the laser power density and laser interaction time lasers
are used in wide variety of manufacturing processes: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Laser Cutting Laser Drilling Laser Marking Laser welding Laser surface Modification i. ii. Laser Transformation Hardening Laser Surface Re-solidification Common Industrial Lasers: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. High power CO2 laser CW & Pulsed Nd:YAG lasers Fiber laser High power diode laser Excimer laser

iii. Laser Surface Alloying iv. Laser Surface Cladding v. 6. 7. Laser Surface Cleaning

Laser Metal Forming Laser Rapid manufacturing