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With much faster processing speeds and higher quality, you might think laser welding would quickly take over the field. But traditional welding hangs on. And depending on who you ask and what applications you consider, it may never go away.
There’s growing evidence that some of the moldmaking business that fled the U.S. chasing cheaper sources offshore is returning. Moldmakers are not finding enough of a favorable cost differential to offset poor mold performance and the need for rework of faulty molds.
Laser welding is a superior technology for repairing defects in tooling, plastic injection molds, stamping dies, blow molds, turbine blades, and nearly any tooling component made of stainless steel, aluminum, copper alloy, cast iron, and all tool steels.
Necessity, as the saying goes, is the mother of invention, and this symbiotic relationship between need and solution was on full display at a recent two-day, two-location event hosted by GF Machining Solutions.
Fiber laser welding is all about control of the process, according to Kurt Magedanz, laser process engineer at Ace Precision Machining Corp., Oconomowoc, Wis. With its new Laserdyne 430 systems, Ace Precision has made huge strides with weld quality while reducing operator intervention in the process.
Metrology-grade laser scanners are expanding their range of applications. New users are finding the main attractions of laser scanners—speed and ease of use. What prevented more widespread use in the past were laser scanners’ perceived tradeoffs. Using one usually meant sacrificing accuracy or working with noisy data.
Using lasers to cut metal, especially sheet metal or tubes, continues to show its value. The market is becoming dominated by the newer solid-state fiber laser over its CO2 gas rival. Fiber’s advantages in ease of operation, packaging and efficiency are clear.