Laser Welding Vs Traditional Welding

Laser Welding Vs Traditional Welding

Laser Welding Vs Traditional Welding: Process, Advantages & Applications

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 Welding Process

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. 

Advantages Of Laser Welding

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: 

Less heat

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.  

Faster processing time

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. 

Lower risk of thermal distortion

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.  

High precision

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. 

Laser Welding Application 

Due to its high precision, faster processing time, wide material tolerance, and consistent high quality, laser welding has various applications, including: 

  • Automobile
  • Tool construction
  • Steel construction
  • Shipbuilding
  • Fine jewelry 

Traditional Welding Process

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). 

Advantages Of Traditional Welding

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: 

Low cost

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. 

Easy to work

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. 

Easy implementation

The welding process can be manually implemented into an operation without the need for sophisticated equipment. 

Traditional Welding Application 

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:

  • Shipbuilding
  • Construction
  • Automotive
  • Mechanical 
  • Steel structures
  • Pressure vessels
  • Aerospace
  • Autobody repair
  • Railroads
  • Industrial piping
  • Manufacturing plants

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.  

Laser Welding Vs Traditional Welding

Laser Welding Traditional Welding
Heat-affected zone (HAZ) Smaller heat-affected zone (HAZ) as the concentrated laser beam is focused on a small area of the workpiece. Higher heat-affected zone (HAZ) as the heat is applied on a large surface area of the workpiece.
Temperature input Requires low-temperature input due to smaller heat-affected zone (HAZ). Requires high-temperature input due to large heat-affected zone (HAZ).
Precision Offers high precision welding as the laser beam can be controlled and focused on a small area of the workpiece. Does not offer high precision as the heat cannot be focused on a small area of the workpiece.
Thermal distortion The workpiece has low thermal distortion due to low heat input and a small heat-affected zone (HAZ). The workpiece has thermal distortion due to high heat input and a large heat-affected zone (HAZ).
Investment Requires high investment Requires low investment