APPLICATIONS IN MATERIAL PROCESSING

Dr. N. Venkatanathan

LASER WELDING
High-power

lasers have found applications in welding. Pulsed ruby lasers have also been used in welding. Laser welding found important application in the fields of electronics and microelectronics Requires precise welding of very thin wires (as small as 10 µm ) or welding of two thin films together.

INTRODUCTION
Laser Beam Welding (LBW) is a modern

welding process. It is a high energy beam process and has many advantages like deep weld penetration and minimizing heat inputs. Use of laser and computers improved the product quality through more accurate control of welding processes.

How it works?
The focal spot is targeted on the work piece

surface which will be welded. At the surface the large concentration of light energy is converted into thermal energy. The surface of the work piece starts melting and progresses through it by surface conductance. For welding, the beam energy is maintained below the vaporization temperature of the work piece material.

The penetration of the work piece depends on

conducted heat. Therefore the thickness of the materials to be welded is generally less than 0.80 inches. The role of focusing lenses in this process is it concentrates the beam energy into a focal spot as small as 0.005 inches diameters or even less. Concentrated energy produces melting and joining of two bodies. The fatigue strength of the welded joint will be excellent. So welding is in pure form.

Laser weld can easily performed between two

dissimilar metals. Thus, a thermocouple may easily be welded to a substrate without much damage to adjacent materials. One can indeed simultaneously form the junction and attach the junction to the substrate. This method has been used in attaching measuring probes to transistors, turbine blades, etc.

Laser welds not only achieves welding

between dissimilar metal but also allow precise location of the weld. The Nd-YAG lasers and CO2 lasers are the two important kinds of lasers that find-wide ranging applications in welding.

In welding, materials are added to join the

two components. Thus the laser power must not be too high to evaporate the material. Removal of material leads, in general, to bad weld. Thus the laser used in welding process must have a high average power rather than high peak power.

Examples for LASER Welding
A weld of ¼ inch thick stainless steel can be carried out

by CO2 laser having an output power of 3.5 KW. The material was moved at a speed of 2 cm/sec in the focal plane of the lens of focal length of 25 cm. Pulsed ruby beam having energy of 5 J with pulse length of about 5 nanosecond was used in welding 0.18 mm thick stainless steel. The weld was made using overlapping spots and the laser was pulsed at the rate of 20 pulses per minutes. The focused spots was about 1 mm in diameter and the associated power density was ≈6 × 105 W/cm2

Laser offers some unique advantages, requires

extremely short time for the laser welding process. Welding can be done in the region adjacent to the heat-sensitive areas with out affecting these elements. Furthermore, welding in otherwise inaccessible areas can also be done using a laser beam. In welding of two wires, one may have a effective weld even without the removal of insulation.

Most Popular types of LBW
Nd:YAG (neodymium-yttrium aluminum garnet)

Laser: Produces light with a 1.06-micron wavelength. Carbon Dioxide Lasers: It produces light with a 10.6-micron wavelength. The Diode Laser: produces several wavelengths. Industries Served: Aerospace, Defense/military, Electronics, Research & development, Medical, Sensors & instrumentation, Petrochemical refining and Communications & energy.

ADVANTAGES
Deep and narrow welds can be done. Absence of distortion in welds. Minimal heat affected zones in welds created. Excellent

metallurgical quality will be established in welds. Ability to weld smaller, thinner components. Increased travel speeds.

HOLE DRILLING
Drilling of holes in various substances is

another interesting application of the laser. Drilling holes less than about 250 µm in diameter by using metal bits becomes very difficult and is also accompanied by frequent breakage of drill bits. With lasers one can easily drill holes as small as 10 µm through the hardest of substances.

The Swiss watch industry has been using flash-

pumped neodymium-YAG lasers to drill ruby stones used in timepieces. So laser ensures that the absence of problem like drill breakage. Laser hole drilling has the advantage of precise location of the hole. A laser pulse having a pulse width of about 1/1000 of a second and an energy of approximately 0.05J can burn through a 1-mm thick steel plate leaving behind a hole of radius ≈ 0.1 mm.

LASER CUTTING
Laser cutting is an advantageous technology choice. The most common laser that is used in cutting

process is the CO2 laser due to its high output power. In the cutting process, one essentially removes the material along the cut. Using pulsed lasers, the repetition frequency of the pulse and the motion of the laser across the material is adjusted so that a series of partially overlapping holes are produced.

The width of the cut should be as small as possible

and it should avoid any re-welding of the cut material. The efficiency of the laser cutting can be increased by making use of gas jet coaxial with the laser. In some cases, one uses a highly reactive gas like oxygen so that when the laser heats up the material, it interacts with the gas and gets burnt. The gas jet also helps in expelling the molten material.

Such a method has been used to cut the

materials like stainless steel, low-carbon steel, titanium etc. For e.g., a 0.13 cm thick stainless steel plate was cut at the rate of 0.8 m per minute using a 190 watt CO2 laser using oxygen jet.
In some methods, one uses inert gases in the

place of oxygen. Such a gas jet helps in expelling the molten material.

Such a technique would be very efficient with

materials which absorb most radiation at the laser wavelength. Wood, paper, plastic, etc. have been cut using this method. A gas jet assisted CO2 laser can be used for obtaining parallel cuts of up to 50 mm depth in wood products. At the cut edges carbonization occurs, but it is usually limited to a small depth of the material.

This causes a discoloration only and can be

decreased by increasing the cutting speed. Laser cutting of stainless steel, nickel alloys and other materials finds widespread application in the aircraft and automobile industry. It has been recently tested and shown that aluminum sheet metal can be efficiently cut with high-powered laser beam.

In fact, it is believed that it could be as

much as 60% to 70% less expensive than the conventional techniques. Laser cutting has also been used in the textile industry for cutting cloth. It is even claimed that this is the greatest advance in apparel manufacturing since the sewing machine.

Advantages
Reduction of total work times Increase in production quality. It is precise, clean and silent. The beam can be focalized on an

extremely small area (from 0.1 to 1mm in diameter). The area in proximity to the cut edge has a very low heat alteration.

Moreover, the laser cut has the capacity of operating

on complex profiles and with very small rays of curvature. Unlike water and traditional cutting systems, light exerts no mechanical pressure on the piece. Absence of wear in the instrument. Cutting capability independent of hardness of the material. Has the capability to cut coated or surface treated materials.

Ease of integration with other automated

systems Very high trimming capability Capability of adapting immediately to changes in production requirements. In many cases, laser cutting can produce finished pieces that do not require further processing (polishing, de-burring, finishing etc.).

Laser Ablation
Laser

ablation is the process of removing material from a solid (or occasionally liquid) surface by irradiating it with a laser beam. At low laser flux, the material is heated by the absorbed laser energy and evaporates or sublimates. At high laser flux, the material is typically converted to a plasma.

Usually, laser ablation refers to removing

material with a pulsed laser. But it is possible to ablate material with a continuous wave laser beam if the laser intensity is high enough. The amount of material removed by a single pulse is depending on the depth over which the laser energy is absorbed. The absorption of laser energy depends on the material's optical properties and the laser wavelength.

Laser pulses can vary over a very wide range of

duration from milliseconds to femtoseconds. The laser fluxes can be precisely controlled. This makes laser ablation very valuable for both research and industrial applications. The simplest application of laser ablation is to remove material from a solid surface in a controlled fashion. Laser drilling is good example.

Pulsed

deep holes through very hard materials. Very short laser pulses remove material so quickly that the surrounding material absorbs very little heat. Laser drilling can be done on delicate or heat-sensitive materials, including tooth enamel which called as laser dentistry.

lasers can drill extremely small,

Laser energy can be selectively absorbed by

coatings, particularly on metal. So CO2 or Nd:YAG pulsed lasers can be used to clean surfaces. Removal of paint or coating, or prepare surfaces for painting without damaging the underlying surface. High power lasers clean a large spot with a single pulse. Lower power lasers use many small pulses which may be scanned across an area.

ADVANTAGES
No solvents are used, so it is environmentally friendly

and operators are not exposed to chemicals. It is relatively easy to automate, e.g., by using robots. The running costs are lower than dry media or CO2 ice blasting, although the capital investment costs are much higher. The process is gentler than abrasive techniques, e.g. carbon fibres within a composite material are not damaged. Heating of the target is minimal.

High level Applications
To process the material removed into new forms either

not possible or difficult to produce by other means. A recent example is the production of carbon nano tubes. To create coatings by ablating the coating material from a source and letting it deposit on the surface to be coated, called special type of physical vapor deposition. Can create coatings from materials that cannot readily be evaporated any other way. This process is used to manufacture some types of high temperature superconductor.

Remote laser spectroscopy uses laser ablation to

create a plasma from the surface material. The composition of the surface can be determined by analyzing the wavelengths of light emitted by the plasma. Finally, laser ablation can be used to transfer momentum to a surface. The ablated material applies a pulse of high pressure to the surface underneath it as it expands. The effect is similar to hitting the surface with a hammer.

This process is used in industry to harden

metal surfaces. Used as a damage mechanism for a laser weapon. It is also the basis of pulsed laser propulsion for spacecraft. Laser ablation has biological applications and can be used to destroy nerves and other tissues.

Medical Applications
Used to remove part of biological tissue. Surface ablation in the skin (also called

resurfacing, because it induces regeneration) can be carried out by lasers. Its purpose is to remove skin spots, aged skin, wrinkles, thus rejuvenating it. Surface ablation is also employed in the ENT treatment. For several kinds of surgery, such as for snoring.

Ablation therapy using radiofrequency waves

on the heart is used to cure a various of cardiac. It is a process by which the molecular bonds of a material are dissolved by a laser. For a laser to be able to ablate tissues, the power density has to be very high. Otherwise thermo-coagulation will happen, which is just a thermal vaporization of the tissues.

Roto-ablation is a type of arterial cleansing

that consists of inserting a tiny, diamondtipped, drill-like device into the affected artery to remove fatty deposits . The procedure is used in the treatment of coronary heart disease to restore blood flow. Bone marrow ablation is a process whereby the human bone marrow cells are eliminated in preparation for a bone marrow transplant.

Ablation of brain tissue is used for treating

certain neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease and some time psychiatric disorders. Recently, some researchers reported successful results with genetic ablation. In particular, genetic ablation is potentially a much more efficient method of removing unwanted cells, such as tumor cells.

Laser ablation is greatly affected by the nature of the

material and its ability to absorb energy. Therefore the wavelength of the ablation laser should have a minimum absorption depth. Surface ablation of the cornea for several types of eye refractive surgery is now common, using an excimer laser system (LASIK and LASEK). Since the cornea does not grow back, laser is used to remodel the cornea refractive properties, in order to correct refraction errors, such as astigmatism, myopia and hyperopia.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful