Work has been conducted using a 60 W-cw high power diode laser (HPDL) in order to determine the feasibility and characteristics of sealing the void between adjoining ceramic tiles with a specially developed grout material having an impermeable enamel surface glaze. A two-stage process has been developed using a new grout material which consists of two distinct components: an amalgamated compound substrate and a glazed enamel surface; the amalgamated compound seal providing a tough, heat resistant bulk substrate, whilst the enamel provides an impervious surface. HPDL processing has resulted in crack free seals produced in normal atmospheric conditions. The basic process phenomena are investigated and the laser effects in terms of seal morphology, composition and microstructure are presented. Also, the resultant heat affects are analysed and described, as well as the effects of the shield gases, O2 and Ar, during laser processing. Tiles were successfully sealed with power densities as low as 500 W/cm2 and at rates up to 600 mm/min. Contact angle measurements revealed that due to the wettability characteristics of the amalgamated oxide compound grout (AOCG), laser surface treatment was necessary in order to alter the surface from a polycrystalline to a semi-amorphous structure, thus allowing the enamel to adhere. Bonding of the enamel to the AOCG and the ceramic tiles was identified as being principally due to van der Waals forces, and on a very small scale, some of the base AOCG material dissolving into the glaze
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