Melt pool and microstructure manipulation using diffractive holographic elements in high power conduction laser welding
AbstractConduction laser welding involves initiating a melt pool by exposure to high power laser
induced light and controlled thermal conduction. Existing welding techniques generally
provide enough energy to join the component but have no real control over the melt pool.
This process can invariably lead to over heating in adjacent areas or even the melt pool
itself, often causing unavoidable issues.
This work presents a procedure in which a desired melt pool shape is conceived, and a
bespoke beam irradiance distribution is designed to match. The beam is shaped, not by
conventional lenses, but by a diffractive optical element (DOE). The DOE utilises
holography to wholly create a highly complex three dimensional energy distributions
through constructive and destructive interference. This technique allows novel beam
irradiance distributions to be applied to conduction mode laser welding, with which the
melt pool transverse profile has been shaped to a specific design. Holographic
conduction laser welding has been shown to be successful and represents a significant
step forward in the industry, demonstrated in this case in both mild and stainless steel.
The fusion zone is shown to be particularly influenced by the shape of the illuminating
laser beam profile, and many of the welds demonstrate a highly novel weld profile
because of this. The use of a bespoke beam irradiance distribution allows the user to
control the heat flow to the workpiece, and this allows greater control over material
migration due to surface tension effects. Many of the welds demonstrate unique surface
solidification patterns directly linked to the beam profile used. The DOE also presents a
number of additional advantages, such as an increased usable depth of field, allowing for
less stringent set up tolerances for example.
Comprehensive metallography has been performed on samples of these welds through
the use of optical microscopy, electron microscopy, electron backscatter diffraction
(EBSD) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS). These techniques offer in depth
analysis of crystal size, shape, orientation and phase. By incorporating DOE's into a laser
welding process, not only does the melt pool shape become controllable, but also the
crystal growth is highly influenced. Many of the undesirable attributes of a conventional
laser weld are reduced by using a beam distribution created by a DOE, bringing the
microstructure of the weld pool closer to that of the parent material