ESAB is launching a new family of Hybrio hybrid laser arc welding equipment. This combines the benefits of laser welding and gas metal arc welding (GMAW) to create an automated welding process that is up to ten times faster than conventional alternatives, with 80-90 per cent less heat input and substantially less distortion.
The Hybrid Laser Arc Welding (HLAW) process is also tolerant of variations in joint gap. The real-time Master Process Controller (MPC) fine-tunes the welding parameters 'on the fly' to ensure consistent quality and weld geometry along the length of the weld.
Hybrio systems are available in gantry, robotic and specialised automated configurations to suit a diverse range of industrial applications. In particular, manufacturers using high-volume industrial fabrication, moderate batch sizes and a low part mix can benefit significantly from the higher productivity and improved quality offered by Hybrio.
The innovative Hybrio technology combines the deep penetration and low heat input of laser welding with the excellent weld properties and superior gap tolerance of GMAW (or MIG/MAG). Hybrid laser welding is characterised by very narrow, deep welds that are produced at very high speeds; this reduces heat input to the part and so reduces shrinkage and distortion. Hybrio uses GMAW in tandem with the laser, adding a relatively modest amount of filler metal to overcome the need for tightly controlled gaps (as would be teh case in laser-only welding). The wider weld beads produced by the GMAW process can bridge gaps that are three times wider than those tolerated by laser-only processes.
Using GMAW also enables users to add filler metal to adjust the weld's metallurgical properties and create beads and fillets, while the lower cooling rate reduces weld hardness.
Ten years of development and testing by ESAB and its partners have proven that hybrid laser arc welding produces welds that can be at least as strong, tough and ductile as conventional welds in every way. The very fine grain structures and smooth, uniform welds make hybrid welds exceptionally good for high-performance alloys and stainless steels. The very smooth, consistent hybrid welds have also been shown to improve fatigue limits on fillet welds by 300 per cent over similarly sized conventional welds.
A key factor behind the success of the Hybrio process is the Master Process Controller (MPC), a PC-based, real-time control system that manages a variety of critical components, including the laser resonator, the arc welding equipment and the motion system carrying the laser and arc welding heads.
The MPC monitors the weld joint, the operating environment and all of the process-related subsystems; it uses pre-seam inspection data to guide the process and to predict parameters needed achieve the required weld profile and quality. By monitoring actual welding conditions and finished weld geometry 'on the fly' the system is able to fine-tune the process parameters and maintain very consistent weld quality. This expands the welding performance envelope by a factor of five compared to hybrid laser welding with conventional controls and by a factor of 15 over laser-only welding. Hybrio welding can therefore be used on large structures and complex assemblies without relying heavily on expensive pre-processing, machining and fixturing.
ESAB claims that Hybrio technology already represents the most advanced automated laser welding system available on the global market. ESAB is committed to this ground-breaking process and has put in place an infrastructure so that it can manufacture, market, sell and support HLAW. In addition, the company will continue developing the process to create state-of-the-art hybrid laser arc welding systems that will help customers maximise productivity and maintain exceptional quality. Follow the link for more information about Hybrio hybrid laser arc welding equipment.