Laser equipment and tools have certainly found their niche throughout the current manufacturing process. Laser applications in industry range from cutting, engraving and marking to drilling, welding, using heat treatment and even additive or LMF manufacturing.
Many industries are taking advantage of laser thanks to its adaptability, from those that use it locally to make everyday objects, to more specialised industries such as medicine or advertising and then the real heavyweights such as automotive. aeronautical and parts manufacturing.
But why is there so much fascination with laser applications in the industry? While laser offers many benefits, two elements really sum it up: namely, its versatility and quality in the results.
Innovative laser applications in industry
Let’s take a more in-depth look at the countless ways laser is used in the industry and how it has gradually migrated from a process that involved greater robustness and mechanisation of the equipment to the practicality, effectiveness and speed that using laser constitutes today.
The use of laser cutting equipment was one of the first applications in this process. In fact, it was one of the first to become known on the market.
A laser or thermal cutting process uses the vaporisation or localised function to make the respective cutting of the material, such as steel, aluminium, anodised aluminium, precious metals, copper or titanium, all of which use the heat of a beam of light that rises to the temperature that crosses and cuts the surface.
The use of laser for cutting allows for maximum precision without affecting or distorting the material and the cut area. There are a range of reasons why laser applications are used in the cutting industry, including:
- Precision, as it allows cuts in a truly range of shapes to be made, even irregular ones or those with more complex contours. One thing that benefits greatly when cutting is how the excess material can be used and cut into smaller parts, which aids waste management and allows savings to be made.
- Agility all that is needed is the data for laser cutting. No cutting patterns or templates are required. Adjustments can be made without affecting production that can also be tailored.
- Versatility, as we already mentioned, its application in various materials provides greater versatility of use with easy adaptability of the cutting wave to them. No different machinery is required for different materials.
- Efficiency. One of the greatest strengths of laser use is that its quality finish. No sanding or sealing after laser cutting is required, saving time and money.
- Cleaning another of the great benefits of laser cutting is how it is a very clean technology, thanks to the fact that no chemical or abrasive substances are used to make it.
Another process that has benefited from laser technology has been marking. Laser applications in the marking and engraving industry have enabled high performance printing of various types of codes, something key today for the traceability of products.
What can be marked with laser? Logos and images, bar codes or QR codes, data matrix, dates and everything companies require to assist with productivity, identification and tracking. What is the best one out there? Laser is flexible in relation to the areas where the marking can be made, namely, any space can be used to make the mark that is required.
- Silent marking.
- Excellent readability.
- Short and precise work cycles.
- Adaptability to processes that require greater accuracy.
- Ideal for use on uneven or cylindrical surfaces that are more complex.
- Low maintenance.
- Great for traceability, thanks to how the results can be read with a range of systems.
3D printing and additive manufacturing
Laser applications in the 3D industry and additive manufacturing scale to innovative new dimensions offering an endless range of uses. The process performs selective blending of layers that produce 3D pieces with perfect results.
Its use extends to the creation of dies, prototypes, mounts, moulds, and many more. The production of objects itself by means of laser fusion aims to fuse small particles and give them their required shape, in other words, what we in the industry refer to as Laser Metal Fusion (LMF) or additive manufacturing.
There is no doubt that 3D and additive manufacturing are ideal methods for mass production. It also allows to add the concept of working with complex geometric shapes, which diversifies its use.
Added to this the creation of objects with internal cavities or channels that is less efficient with other methods, an obstacle that can be overcome with laser technology.
Can components or robust elements be created for extreme use? Yes indeed, and the major benefit is that this does not mean that they have to be heavy; quite the opposite in fact, allowing us to obtain a lighter construction.
Another major benefit of laser applications in the 3D industry and additive manufacturing is its very sustainable procedure as we already saw in the cutting and engraving process.
Unlike other methods, laser leaves no residue and therefore involves less material waste, allowing a significant saving across the board.
Welding has also undoubtedly made its mark on the industry in terms of laser applications and performs excellently during this process. While laser welding is nothing new, the methods have been refined to give finer, quality results.
Laser welding systems are very powerful and give incredible results, over and above traditional welding systems. There are currently a number of laser welding systems:
- Fibre laser: one of the most versatile on the market. They allow small-scale as well as welding for large surfaces. They are of excellent quality and offer optimal results for any of your applications.
- Continuous wave laser: this involves a type of welding that requires a very low heat input, but with fantastic results.
- YAG pulsed lasers: these are the type of laser used to produce long spot welds. They are also the industry’s choice for high depth laser welding.
From macro industries to smaller workshops, laser welding is a great choice. It offers many benefits, including:
- Laser applications in the welding industry are very fast, increasing the speed of work and result.
- All welding equipment is adapted to the needs of the process. Higher or lower temperatures and speed allow them to be adapted to what is required at any given time.
- No filler materials are required for the welding, unlike in the case of traditional welding. This leads to significant cost savings.
- The accuracy of laser welding is another factor why laser welding is chosen. The control and precision of the equipment allows for better results, especially when welding is a little more complicated.
- Laser welds are among the most beneficial on the market in terms of results. Not even the material it is made from becomes deformed. This also makes them very durable
- It can be used in countless materials such as stainless steel, alloyed, special or even nickel.
So, we can see that laser applications in the industry are as varied as the manufacturing processes themselves. And best of all is how the field is expanding ever more, due to the studies and research that are currently taking place.
Also worth mentioning is how laser also allows greater automation of all industries, making processes take place in a much simpler and faster way. A proper data design and standard tests and the process is ready to start producing.
The future of the industry and laser applications are endless and will only continue to get better and their applications become diversified on a larger and smaller scale.
Couth your ally in laser marking
Couth can offer you tailor-made solutions for the laser marking industry 4.0. With its excellent performing high-range equipment and quality results, it is just what your company needs in terms of laser traceability.
Are you looking to start new projects or turn your current production around? Everything is possible with quality laser equipment, and you will find only the best at Couth.