Laser welding is a non-contact, low heat-input, easily automatable and hence, highly repeatable joining process.  The high welding rates, weld quality and repeatability attainable has led to the process being successfully adopted by a number of industry sectors for the joining of mono-metallic, relatively simplistic joint configurations, e.g. automotive welding.  However, despite these benefits, there is a relatively high initial capital investment required for laser welding systems (compared to competing joining processes), and thus there are a wide range of applications which have not yet adopted laser welding.


One of the key benefits of laser welding is that it is possible to create a tailored energy distribution; which is achievable by rastering the beam in defined patterns across and along a joint line or over an area.  However, this requires a galvanic scanner to be attached to the laser source, which possesses very high capital costs, relatively delicate and very flexible – whereas for most applications, a cheaper, more robust (but less flexible) system would be welcome.


A Diffractive Optical Element (DOE) can split and direct a laser into virtually unlimited patterns. They are relatively cheap to manufacture and have no moving parts. Using DOE’s to split and direct the beam into precise tailored energy patterns would make the joining of dissimilar materials or multi-spot ‘one-shot’ laser welding achievable at low capital and running costs. The Tailor:Weld project aims to develop suitable tailored energy distributions for a range of selected applications and produce a prototype laser welding head which is capable of incorporating interchangeable DOEs depending upon the requirements of the work.

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