Laser cladding of metals and alloys is a process in which the laser is used as a heat source to melt the addition material to create a coating onto the surface of a part. A powder injection technique is typically used to create a protective coating for increased functionality, as well as restore damaged or worn surfaces. Laser cladding allows extended life of equipment and machinery in which parts are exposed to corrosion, wear or impact.
Extend the life of your equipment - contact a local IPG laser cladding engineer to learn how.
Benefits of laser cladding over alternate technologies include better metallurgy (bonding, hardness or porosity) as well as reduced part deformation and stress due to lower overall heat input. Thin-coat applications can be thinner, saving powder costs, and in most cases lasers have a significantly shorter cycle time. In all cases the ease of automation leads to higher part quality, improved productivity, and overall lower operating costs.
All arc welding processes can be used for cladding, using additional filler wire if necessary to build up thickness. Most arc cladding processes are manual, and skilled craftsmen are necessary to produce good quality.
Having deposition rates as high as an arc process, fiber lasers melt less of the target material, causing less mixing with, and dilution of, the desired outer coating. This results in thinner coatings, less material used, shorter cycle times and reduced processing cost.
Thermal spraying is a mechanical bonding process that pre-melts the coating powder then sprays it at high velocity to deposit on the target. Coatings have strong adhesion but high porosity and tendency to oxidation and heating affects.
Laser cladding reduces heating affects for less stress and has a shorter cycle time.
Cold spraying is a mechanical bonding process that sends particles at a very high velocity to the part surface where they deform plastically and mechanically bond. Coating adhesion is strong, and coatings are very dense, however most efficient processes use large quantities of helium as the carrier gas.
Laser cladding eliminates the need for costly helium, has a higher powder deposition efficiency and a much shorter process cycle time.
IPG fiber lasers deliver constant, stable, laser heating that results in repeatable, high-yielding parts. Unlike other solutions that suffer from power level fluctuations and degradations over time, the IPG solid-state fiber laser technology ensures repeatable performance without the need for recalibration and adjustment.
Cladding uses a lot of energy over extended periods of time, so energy efficiency has a big effect on production costs. IPG fiber lasers have the highest wall plug efficiency in the industry, meaning that more of your electricity is cladding parts – not just producing inefficient equipment heat that must be removed.
Cladding centers are typically harsh industrial environments where dust and operating conditions are challenging for equipment. IPG YLS Fiber Lasers for cladding applications are entirely solid state, and are housed in a NEMA 12, air-conditioned and sealed cabinets adding to the robustness of the unit.