Tech Report: Laser Welding Helps Job Shops

(featured in Industrial Laser Solutions – 7-8/16; written by Dr. Philip Rettenmeier and Brett Thompson)

Sheet metal laser welding helps job shops compete globally. Job shops benefit from increased return on investment.

“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” At the beginning of 20th century, world-famous physician Albert Einstein recognized that innovation is the result of looking at things differently, and this is true in sheet metal fabrication as well. As the laser became a widespread technology for cutting applications, productivity increased dramatically for job shops looking to compete. However, when joining sheet metal, job shops have yet to fully embrace more of the benefits laser technology affords. For example, most sheet metal parts are still joined by conventional arc welding processes, such as metal inert gas (MIG), metal active gas (MAG), or tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, and these processes have seen few changes over the last few decades. The majority of conventionally welded parts still require a refinishing step – such as grinding – to achieve perfect  quality, yet this additional step could easily be overcome with laser welding. This innovative approach not only opens up completely new markets for job shops, it also makes them more competitive in the global marketplace.

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