The aim of the Tailor:Weld project is to develop and demonstrate an innovative laser welding system, that uses simple and robust Diffractive Optical Elements (DOEs), which will increase the flexibility and simplify the application of laser welding; removing the key barrier to entry for SME fabricators.
DOEs are a relatively new method (the first commercial DOEs for laser materials processing were made by HOLO/OR in 1991) of focussing and controlling a laser beam source that offer:
The ability to produce (virtually) unlimited energy distributions which are tailored to a particular end-user application.
A robust and low capital cost method of tailoring the laser beam energy distribution.
A significant reduction in the requirement for highly specialist laser welding operatives to support SME end-users.
This aim will be realised through two critical developments:
- Development of a thermo-physical model, easily accessed through a DOE design tool with Graphical User Interface (GUI), that is capable of calculating the necessary laser beam energy distribution for a given joint (taking into account common materials and joint geometry).
- Production of a DOE laser welding head module, allowing for quick and simple interchange of DOEs for different laser welding processes, and incorporating process monitoring for Quality Assurance. The solution provides SMEs a ‘turn-key’ system, which gives the necessary flexibility, whilst requires little (or no) advanced training to operate.
Figure above shows an overview of the Tailor:Weld system – showing how a new SME end-user would use the model to then determine a suitable DOE design and then be able to purchase the welding head (or full laser welding system, as appropriate).
If you are interested in the project, or would like to receive further information regarding the Tailor:Weld system, please contact us to discuss your applications.