Laser Welded Profiles in Stainless Steel and their Possibilities

PUBLISHED 23 November 2017

Laser welding is a well-proven technology in the automotive industry. For manufacturing stainless steel profiles, it is lesser known. However, in comparison with others, laser welded profiles have interesting advantages.

laser welded profiles

Laser Welded Profiles – Differences Between Several Lasers

The technology within the field of laser applications is developing rapidly and new possibilities are offered thanks to improved machines and their achievements. Montanstahl has been offering laser welded profiles for more than 15 years, whereas the process of laser welding has already been settled for a longer time in the automotive industry.
Nowadays laser technology finds usage mainly in medical science and health care. Thanks to it, robots execute operations where instead of scalpels lasers perform cuts precisely and accurately.
A very young application for the laser technology is 3D-printing of steel or other metals such as titanium, for example.
Nevertheless, many applications and industrial sectors are characterised very differently, all fields of applications profit from the continuous further development and improvements of the laser system.

Laser Welded Stainless Steel Profiles – Unlimited Possibilities

At Montanstahl,development is constant, too. The resonators for the laser ray generation – originally in operation as the first generation – have been renovated several times by newer and more advanced versions. Besides traditional CO2 lasers, new disc lasers are operational for producing high-quality stainless steel profiles.
At first, we produced only simple profile geometries, such as stainless steel tees and beams. Systematically, Montanstahl added further sections and today stainless steel angles and U-channels complete the product range of stainless steel structural sections.
As the laser welded profiles of Montanstahl got a very enthusiastic feedback in the market, architects started even specifying the sharp-edged finish of laser welded sections in their projects and tenders.

Sharp Edge Laser Welded Profiles

Today sharp-edged square and rectangular hollow sections in “Montanstahl-finish” (mainly produced in carbon steel) are an established and accepted standard in the curtain wall industry.
Only laser technology makes this execution possible, as the weld bead produced is extremely small and barely noticeable.
A majority of the laser welded profiles is made from common austenitic stainless steel grades 304/304L and 316/316L as well as 316Ti. In addition, many other stainless steel grades are applicable for the laser technology such as ferritic stainless steel, Duplex stainless steel, heat resistant stainless steel or high-alloy stainless steel, but not all grades are laser-compatible. Martensitic steels for example are not suitable.

Laser Welded Special Profiles at Montanstahl

Montantsahl also has laser welding machines that are individually designed and constructed for special profiles:

3D-Laser Welding

3D-laser welding is a technology that allows welding of huge components. For example, there are complex bent components with several welds. This technology also makes welding profiles with variable cross-sections possible. The high-tech laser machine is able to weld hot rolled or extruded pre-shapes to new complex profile geometries, which were not feasible otherwise.

In addition, a GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding) process can be attached to the 5-axe-laser robot. Due to this, hybrid welding is also possible. This combined welding technique puts the GMAW in front of the laser welding which brings some advantages:

  • Laser welding profiles in Duplex stainless steel is possible without any reduction in regards of the corrosion resistance
  • Laser welding different raw materials and their combinations is possible (for example hot rolled and extruded profiles can be welded together
  • By-passing of the zero gap (possible gaps between the semi-finished material will be closed with the filler metal)

Low Impact Laser

Another laser installation at Montanstahl is the low-impact laser. It is a specific machine for low power range and it makes welding small and delicate profiles with very little distortion possible. This type of laser also welds without producing weld spatters. Montanstahl uses this advantage to weld pre-polished metal stripes to aesthetic profiles with high-end surfaces, without damaging them.

Laser Welded Profiles – Significant Advantages

There are some advantages of the laser technology compared to others when producing stainless steel profiles:

Laser welding vs. GMAW welding

  • less distortion
  • tighter tolerances
  • higher productivity
  • smaller weld beads

Laser welding vs. hot rolling

  • significant tighter tolerances
  • no minimum quantities
  • design flexibility
  • bigger dimension range

Laser welding vs. hot extrusion

  • significant tighter tolerances
  • higher productivity
  • higher surface quality
  • bigger dimension range

In the future laser welding will also play a key role when it comes to producing high-quality profiles. Today laser welded profiles in stainless steel are already preferred over cheaper, hot rolled alternatives due to quality reasons. The higher precision granted by the laser technology make a faster and easier processing and installation of the stainless steel profiles possible.

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