ESAB offers a complete line of welding and cutting products and solutions. Explore our equipment offering with ease based on product line and industry.
ESAB is a world leader in welding and cutting equipment and consumables. Explore our complete line of welding & cutting products for virtually every application.
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Welding is a fabrication process in which two or more metals are fused using heat or pressure to form a joint as the parts cool. There are several types of welding based on the procedure involved. Two common processes – laser and traditional – each have their own advantages and applications.
Laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) welding is a fusion welding process in which metals or thermoplastics are joined using a focused laser beam. It is the most advanced type of welding method and finds application across many industries spanning from aerospace and medical equipment to fine jewelry making.
In the laser welding process, a concentrated beam of light is focused on the cavity between the materials to be joined. The powerful laser beam melts the materials at their seams and fuses into a joint. A highly concentrated heat source allows laser welding in thin sheet metal to be conducted at high speeds of meters per minute. In thicker materials, laser welding can produce deep and narrow welds.
Laser welding is very versatile and can be used in conjunction with traditional arc welding to create hybrid laser arc welding. The resulting weld possesses the advantages of both laser welding and arc welding. The weld will also have deep penetrating joints and improved tolerance to joint fit-up. Undesirable effects such as internal porosity and cracking are reduced.
When compared to traditional welding, laser welding has the following advantages:
A highly concentrated laser beam is focused on a small area, making the heat-affected zone (HAZ) smaller. Thus, laser welding requires low-temperature input when compared to traditional welding.
Though the initial investment is high, the process proves to be more cost-effective than traditional welding. Laser welding offers a faster processing speed that results in higher production and quicker turnaround.
As the process involves low heat input, there is less thermal stress. The focused beam melts only a small surface area of the metal, resulting in minimized heat-induced internal stress and distortion to the workpiece.
In laser welding, the laser beam can be controlled and focused on a small area. This permits the welding of components with high precision. Its tailorable spot size makes laser welding best suited for delicate or thin metals.
Due to its high precision, faster processing time, wide material tolerance, and consistent high quality, laser welding has various applications, including:
In the traditional welding process, arc heat melts the base metal and filler metal (if applicable) to fuse into a joint on cooling. Shielding gas is used to protect the molten metal (the weld pool) from atmospheric pollutants. This prevents the resulting weld joint from becoming porous.
Some of the most common types of traditional welding processes include – Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW/MIG), Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW/TIG), Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), and Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW).
The traditional welding method serves as a great fabrication solution for many industries based on its own set of advantages.
When compared to laser welding, traditional welding has the following advantages:
Traditional welding requires lower investment costs in comparison to laser welding. This makes the traditional welding method suitable for fabrication work where the budget is a consideration.
Traditional welding is easy to automate. The method can also be mastered manually with knowledge and practice. The manufacturing industry finds it easy to understand traditional welding methods due to legacy operations.
The welding process can be manually implemented into an operation without the need for sophisticated equipment.
Traditional welding includes several types of welding processes. The traditional welding method is extensively used in the fabrication and manufacturing sectors.
Some of the industries include:
Laser welding and traditional welding each have their own set of advantages. Traditional welding is easy to implement and master and requires less investment, thus making it suitable for all fabrication and manufacturing sectors. Laser welding is the most advanced type of welding. It offers high precision, low heat distortion, and faster processing time. This makes laser welding suitable for applications that require high precision. You must decide which welding method is right for you based on the application, type of project, and budget.