Laser cladding falls into the group of processes commonly known as hard-facing. The laser cladding process is a method of applying a fully dense, metallurgically bonded and virtually pure coating which can be used to increase the wear resistance, corrosion resistance or impact performance of metallic components. In some cases, all three of the properties can be improved. The process utilises a precisely focused high power laser beam to create a weld pool into which a metallic powder is applied. The powder, which is carried by a stream of inert shielding gas, is blown coaxially through the laser beam. The highly accurate nature of the laser beam allows fully dense cladding with minimal dilution (<5%), yet with a perfect metallurgical bond. Numerous coatings can be applied, the composition of which can be designed to combat the failure mechanisms associated with each component.
The MET-CLAD laser cladding system is a stand-alone product that can be used to apply laser clad coatings. The control console offers mass-flow control of the laser shielding and powder feed gas for repeatable cladding. The laser can also be housed and controlled within the cladding console. All operations of the cladding process are controlled via a touchscreen panel. The interface to the operator is very simple to understand and runs on a familiar Windows interface. The control console enables control of the laser, cooling system, gases and interfaces with the powder feeder, laser head and external automation such robot and/or turntable/lathe etc. – all from the one touch screen. As standard, the control console includes a built in, 3kW, 19″ rack mounted diode laser. 3kW is chosen for its compact size and is generally considered to give manageable capabilities for a wide range of cladding applications. Larger capacity lasers can be integrated but will have their own enclosure. The laser cladding head supplied as standard is a co-axial, conical head system giving excellent precision and efficiency. An optional camera can be supplied to view down the centre of the laser and show the weld pool as the cladding process is underway.
Complete turnkey packages can also be offered with booths, robots and automation.