Developers at General Electric Corp.’s Global Research center in Niskayuna, N.Y., have designed a high-power hybrid laser arc welding (HLAW) system that the company reports will speed up industrial manufacturing processes.

At 20 kW the new GE system is one of the largest HLAW operations in North America and is capable of welding steels nearly one-inch thick in a single pass, versus up to a half dozen passes used to achieve such a fabrication with current welding technologies. Using HLAW will increase the speed at which industrial products are manufactured in the future. In an example provided by GE, shifting from conventional welding processes to HLAW to weld the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga might have saved the builders nearly 800 tons of weld metal and reduced welding time by 80%.

GE said it is considering how to use the HLAW technology across its infrastructure manufacturing operations, including the oil and gas, power generation, aviation and rail industries.

“Manufacturing is becoming increasingly high-tech, with the introduction of advanced tools and processes that can make products better, faster and at substantially lower costs,” stated Luana Iorio, Manufacturing Technologies Leader at GE Global Research. “HLAW technology is part of a broad portfolio of next generation manufacturing tools GE is developing to improve our manufacturing competitiveness and take product performance to the next level.”

“Manufacturing is becoming increasingly high-tech, with the introduction of advanced tools and processes that can make products better, faster and at substantially lower costs,” stated Luana Iorio, Manufacturing Technologies Leader at GE Global Research. “HLAW technology is part of a broad portfolio of next generation manufacturing tools GE is developing to improve our manufacturing competitiveness and take product performance to the next level.”

GE details that its HLAW process uses a combination of laser welding and arc welding: High-power fiber lasers can weld steels greater than 0.5 in thick in a single pass at speeds greater than 6 ft/min, forming a higher quality weld than multi-pass welding can achieve.

The company states that its HLAW development confirms its commitment to advanced technologies for manufacturing.