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CLAIM — Result In Brief

Project ID: 262449
Funded under: FP7-SME

Laser-assisted metal joining is faster and better

In Europe, a new welding technology for sheet metal has been developed. The new process is much quicker and more energy efficient without compromising the weld quality.
Laser-assisted metal joining is faster and better
In tungsten inert gas (TIG) or plasma arc welding, a tungsten electrode is used to heat the metal, while argon gas protects the weld puddle from airborne contaminants. However, until now, the TIG process has been limited by its welding speed.

Overcoming this limitation was the goal of the 'Customised laser-assisted plasma arc welding of light alloys and steels' (CLAIM) project, funded by the EU. The project aimed to build an industrial prototype, then develop the new process and verify its economic efficiency.

At the beginning of the project, the specific end-user requirements were defined by the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in the project. Based on this analysis, the project decided to develop a double TIG laser process.

CLAIM modified an existing triple TIG welding head in order to produce a prototype welding head. Aluminium and stainless steel test pieces were then welded using this prototype.

The complete process development was supported by spectral analysis and a process diagnostic technique based on a high-speed camera. In addition, the project developed a process-monitoring system to detect and identify welding defects in real time.

To ensure correct installation of the complete welding equipment, CLAIM produced a manual of the prototype system and its operation. Now complete, the project has developed a double TIG plus laser process.

The new process reduces the energy input of welding and doubles its speed without compromising the welding depth. As a result, the participating European SMEs are now equipped to become more competitive in the global market for joining sheet metals.Watch the project’s video here.

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