Laser Cladding

High Quality Laser Cladding in the United States

All laser cladding operations are fully automated, ensuring accurate and repeatable applications of the weld overlay. Laser cladding offers precise control, coordinated by a single computer system..

Common Laser Cladding Applications

  • Hard valves and seats
  • Down-hole tools for oil and gas drilling
  • Agricultural size-reduction tooling
  • Extremely high-wear application

Recent advancements in laser material processing have virtually removed much of the risk of applying fully-fused metallic overlays, even to complex and highly-machined components by allowing the extremely high heat of fusion to be contained to a small local surface area, and with minimal penetration of the heat into the substrate. The process, variously referred to as laser cladding, laser hardfacing, and laser deposition, uses a high-powered industrial laser, featuring a beam directed by a precision CNC machine tool to create patterns of hardface welding beads wherever needed on the surface of metallic components.

The machine tool guides the focused laser beam, in concert with a means for injecting the powdered hardfacing material, over the workpiece so that the laser can melt and alloy the surface with the deposited metal. The result is a welded overlay of hardfaced material precisely applied where it is needed, using only the amount of laser energy needed to create the weld bead.

Laser application of metallic overlays to metallic substrates offers properties similar to overlays applied by traditional welding methods but with substrate metallurgy effects more akin to sprayed and fused coatings. The result is a true metallurgical bond of overlay and substrate with minimal dilution and low heat-affected zone (HAZ). Laser-applied overlays do not require masking for precise deposit geometry, and they can be tailored to nearly any substrate/overlay pairing.

Method

Laser-applied overlays are produced by locally heating the substrate metal to a molten state using a tightly controlled beam of laser energy, and then introducing a feedstock of the overlay material in powder or wire form. The melt pool produced by the defocused laser beam absorbs the melted feedstock, and, as the beam and powder injection are moved away, the material rapidly solidifies, producing a fully dense weld bead. The welding apparatus is attached to a motion control system—either a five-axis CNC device or a six-axis robotic arm—which can be programmed to precisely guide the tool over complex surfaces, yielding a uniform overlay thickness over nearly any outer surface geometry. Monitoring of the tool speed over the surface allows the system to accurately throttle laser power and powder parameters to ensure uniform coating properties despite acceleration and deceleration of the tool by the motion control system.

Practice

Due to the precise control of the laser energy at the weld pool, laser cladding overlays can be tailored to provide optimal deposition efficiency, thickness, and/or HAZ. Typical single-pass thicknesses can be in the range of .015” to .060”, though other dimensions are possible. Geometric accuracy of the overlay’s dimensions can be within a few thousandths of an inch, depending on the shape of the weld border. Other methods can be used to control the surface finish of the overlay after application.

 

Laser Cladding Services

High Quality Laser Cladding in the United States

Our laser cladding services department leverages our extensive history in the coating and welding industry with the highest-quality laser processing hardware available. We provide expert laser cladding services, delivering the best engineered laser cladding solution for your wear and corrosion problem.

Wear Resistance

  • Laser application of high-performance alloys (i.e. Stellite and Inconel), yields tougher overlay
  • Applying spherical cast tungsten carbide can produce an almost indestructible armor against the most abusive wear environment.

Corrosion Resistance

  • Unlike mechanically bonded coatings, laser-applied clad overlays are completely nonporous.
  • Provides an impenetrable barrier against harsh corrosives.
  • Low heat-affected zone produced by this welding process ensures minimal change to the parent metallurgy and significantly reduces the risks of heat-related failures in operation.

Other Laser Cladding Applications

  • Precise application of material makes dimensional restoration of service-worn components easy.
  • In tandem with our in-house machining services, HLS can restore even the most worn component to like-new dimensions.
  • Precise five-axis machining center is equally adept at cutting and has the advantage of a large 3m x 1.5m x 1.5m work envelope and 3D processing range to effect precise cuts on the most complex geometries.

Application Criteria

Laser clad overlays are excellent in a wide range of applications, but the higher cost of a welded overlay, when compared to a thermal spray solution, often demands that laser cladding services are primarily specified for only the most extreme applications.

Components being laser clad are exposed to higher temperatures than traditional thermal spray produces so care should be taken in applying overlays to low-tolerance parts at or near finished dimension. Our weld engineers can help you determine if our laser cladding services are right for your application. Call or email us to discuss your laser cladding project.

 

Laser Cladding Facts

Laser cladding offers an array of unique advantages over other conventional welding and hardfacing methods.

  • High purity, low dilution welded overlay
    Overlay chemistry and hardness are undiluted at the surface of the first pass; there is no need for multiple passes or heavy overlay thicknesses that add expense and induce unwanted tensile stress.
  • Very low heat input, low distortion
    Fully machined parts with close tolerances can be welded with little risk of distortion or dimensional deviation. Overlays have been applied to substrates as thin as 0.060” (1.5mm) without warping or distortion.
  • Welded, fully alloyed bond
    Unlike thermal spray, the bonding mechanism is molecular and not mechanical. External physical stresses are unlikely to cause the overlay to disbond, fracture, or spall. Overlays can withstand significant abrasion and direct impact.
  • Rugged, high toughness protection
    Tungsten and titanium carbide composite overlays are regularly used to protect drilling and mining components. Cobalt-based alloy overlays defend against particulate erosion and cavitation in high-pressure pumps, valves, and turbines.
  • Impermeable corrosion barrier
    Uniform, crack- and pore-free overlays prevent permeation and attack of substrate materials by even highly reactive liquids and gases. Overlays can be machined, ground, and lapped to form tight-fitting seals for valves and couplings.
  • Virtually unlimited metallic overlay-substrate combinations
    Most overlay materials can be welded onto nearly any machinable metallic substrate, allowing high-performance alloys or special property materials to be added strategically to less-expensive free machining steels or exotic aerospace alloys.

Laser Cladding for Restoration

Low heat input and precise control of material deposition make laser cladding a perfect tool for making the old new again.
The combination of low heat input, heard-wearing materials and unbreakable metallic bonding make laser cladding an ideal tool for repairing or rebuilding surfaces that have lost their size or shape to the ravages of time. Bring your worn or damaged part to us, and we’ll bring it back to life.

A collector of antique tractors had a problem: the bearing fits on the steering worm of his 1945 John Deere Model L tractor were badly pitted and worn. While new tapered bearings and cages could be bought off the shelf, the Gemmer worm was no longer available, and the machines that made them ended up in factories in other parts of the world. The collector came to Hayden to see if we could help.

The piece was small, and the amount of material required was minimal, so we decided to take the job on. Fortunately, the gentleman had a similar piece on loan that we could use as a reference for establishing dimensions. We elected to rebuild the area with a hard-wearing steel alloy that would be tough enough to withstand the bearing action but soft enough to avoid risk of cracking.

The complex combination of the worm’s helical gear path, combined with the hourglass shape traced by the pivoting sector cam would make this piece difficult to draft, but a quick three-dimensional scan of the worm produced an accurate solid model that could be used for programming the laser cladding process. To keep heat input minimal, we chose to use a small diameter spot size, and place several thin weld beads close together, rather than apply the material quickly. Contours were programmed to build up the worn tapers by approximately 0.040″ per side, in order to allow enough material to re-establish the correct diameter by grinding, afterward.

The piece was mounted onto an arbor and placed into the rotary position of the laser system. Once the piece was loaded, the processing program could be aligned with the actual part, and a test could be run to ensure proper alignment. Since the program was created in the virtual programming suite based on an accurate three dimensional model of the part, the program fell right into line, tracing the tapers perfectly. Due to the laser’s tight control and minimal heat input, the worm never exceeded 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and the hardened gear body was never at risk of loosing its physical properties.

Once the cladding was complete, the piece moved to the grind shop, where our machinist set the 15-degree taper, cleaned the adjacent face and ground the diameters on both ends to match the sample piece we had on loan. The grind operation restored the surface finish and size required to match the bearings, and the entire assembly could be re-packed and installed to run like new.

Hayden Laser Services, LLC has performed similar repairs to restore original sector shafts for classic Pierce Arrow automobiles, and other irreplaceable components.

 
 

Precision 3D Cutting

Precise control of an extremely high-quality laser beam allows fast, accurate cutting of metals up to a quarter of an inch thick. Coupled with a robust five-axis CNC machine tool and a large 3m x

1.5m x 1.5m work envelope, our laser system provides unparalleled cutting flexibility and accuracy.

Common Applications

  • Hydroformed components
  • Custom fabrication
  • Tooling and fixturing

Method

A high-powered carbon dioxide laser, designed to produce an exceptionally high-quality beam profile, is directed toward the surface to be cut in tandem with a high-pressure cutting gas.As the laser begins cutting, a piercing cycle produces a series of penetrating pulses to break completely through the material. Once the penetration is complete, the gas delivery nozzle reduces its standoff to the surface to direct maximum gas flow into the cut. The laser energy melts the material, and the gas jet ejects the molten material from the cut as the head passes over the surface. Simultaneously, capacitative height-sensing circuitry allows the system to maintain a constant and minimal proximity to the workpiece, ensuring maximum cutting pressure and a smooth, accurate cut. The cutting head is attached to a five-axis CNC device, which can be programmed to precisely steer the cutting head over complex surfaces.

Practice

The entire cutting operation is controlled by a suite of computers managing all aspects of the process. These systems are, in turn, following direction from a single NC program that details both the motion path for the cutting head and the cutting parameters to be used. The program is generated in a custom software package capable of integrating nearly any common three-dimensional solid model. Contours on the model’s surface can be selected and modified and used for directing the cutting tool. Since the same model for the initial fabrication of the three-dimensional part can be used, the cutting program can be guaranteed to accurately follow the component’s surface and this is why this is a very reliable and accurate metal cutting technique.

 
 

Photo Gallery

Click on thumbnails for larger image.