The Mechatronics Division of systems integrator Sumitomo Heavy Industries (SHI) is conducting applications-based trials using JK Lasers’ 1-kW fiber laser (JK1000FL), aiming to determine its ability to meet rising processing demands in the Japanese automotive sector.

Initial results show that the JK1000FL produces the necessary high-speed, high-quality welds for a range of industrial applications, including welding of diesel injectors and airbag initiators.

Compared to the 600-µm spot size previously attainable using a CW Nd:YAG laser, a more focused 50µm – 200µm spot size can be achieved with the JK1000FL. This allows deeper penetration or faster processing speeds. When keyhole welding stainless steel for example, the JK1000FL achieved nearly 2 mm penetration at 3.5 m per minute and 3 mm penetration at 0.5 m per minute (see figure 1).

Further, the beam quality of the JK1000FL means it is tolerant to defocusing. As a result, processing parameters do not have to be altered to accommodate slight variations between the material and the nozzle tip or lens. SHI’s trials demonstrate that the penetration depth of the JK1000FL is insensitive to defocus in the range of ±1 mm (see figure 2).

The ability to weld consistently while slightly defocused allows for manufacturing part variations and robotic welding arm path discrepancies. However, welding under these conditions — particularly when processing reflective materials such as copper and aluminum commonly used in automotive battery applications — can cause damaging back reflection. JK Lasers’ Plug-In, Pre-Aligned (PIPA) delivery fibers protect the JK1000FL under these conditions.

Another important benefit of the JK1000FL is its energy efficiency. Consuming up to 10 times less energy than Nd:YAG lasers of the same output power, fiber lasers are generating considerable interest in Japan, where electricity supplies are at an all-time low. Almost all of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors – which supply up to one third of that countyr’s electricity – were shut down last year following devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Featuring a completely sealed optical design, fiber lasers eliminate the need for routine maintenance. With a mean time to failure (MTTF) of over 300,000 hours, the diode laser pump sources used in JK Fiber Lasers are extremely reliable and help deliver wall-plug efficiencies of over 25% as part of an optimized laser design.

The Mechatronics Division of SHI has worked with JK Lasers for over 20 years, integrating the laser manufacturer’s comprehensive range of Nd:YAG and fiber lasers into its machines to create high-quality production technology.

JK Lasers manufactures Watt-to-kilowatt fiber lasers, CW, and pulsed Nd:YAG lasers, as well as process tools and user-friendly software. It delivers laser processing solutions for cutting, welding, and drilling in medical device, aerospace, automotive, electronics and semiconductor applications.