Laser welding is the latest advancement in welding, with the ability to replace wire feed MIG as well as TIG welding, with several advantages over these long-held standard welding methods.
Production of stainless steel distiller parts has traditionally be done using TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding. This method has, until recently, been the best option for welding the relatively light-gauge material used, causing less damage to the tubing and other components than with other traditional methods of welding. Still, TIG welding works by creating an arc of electricity to melt the metal, creating significant heat on the metal.
Fiber Laser welding, using fiber optics to generate a high power infrared laser, allows for a very fine beam that can be far more focused and intense. This results in much faster and more precise melting of the metal, reducing the Heat Affected Zone (the area where the surface of the metal has been altered) to just the area being welded, leaving the corrosion resistant qualities of the stainless steel more intact than with TIG welding. The smaller Heat Affected Zone also requires less polishing, improving the overall appearance and corrosion resistance. Laser welding also requires no tungsten, so there is no contact or risk of contamination of the metal.
So, with laser welding offering the benefits of faster welding with less damage to the surrounding material, why isn't everyone switching to Fiber Optic Laser Welding? Put quite simply, the investment cost is significant. TIG Welding machines can cost as little as $500-$600, whereas Laser Welding Machines are many times the cost, starting at more than $10,000. In our opinion, the benefits and finished quality are worth the investment.