GE unveils ultra powerful high‑tech laser welding system
July 21, 2011 7:18 am
• 20-kW hybrid laser arc welder will dramatically increase speed at which industrial products can be made and assembled• Will benefit GE Energy, Aviation, Oil & Gas and Transportation businesses
GE scientists and engineers at the company’s Global Research headquarters in Niskayuna, NY recently unveiled a high-power hybrid laser arc welding (HLAW) system that will revolutionise how industrial products are manufactured in the future. At 20 kW, GE’s system is one of the largest HLAW facilities in North America. It wields enough power to weld steels nearly one‑inch thick in a single pass versus the up to a half dozen passes required with current welding technologies. Utilising HLAW will dramatically increase the speed at which industrial products are manufactured in the future. For example, going from conventional welding processes to HLAW to weld the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga could have saved nearly 800 tons of weld metal (equal to the weight of more than 600 compact cars) and reduced the welding time by 80 per cent. GE is exploring this technology for application across its infrastructure manufacturing operations, including the oil & 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,” said 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.”
Welding is fundamental to the manufacture of virtually any product made with metal components. It also is one of the most time-consuming elements of a manufacturing process. Furthermore, welding has traditionally taken place within a centralised manufacturing operation, which often is a great distance from a finished product’s final destination. This makes shipping more complex and costly. New, breakthrough-manufacturing tools like GE’s HLAW system will eventually break the mold, enabling parts to be welded in just of a fraction of the time it takes today with greater consistency.
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