Welding and additive manufacturing solutions

Civan Lasers and Smart Move GmbH have partnered to provide customers with new additive manufacturing (AM) welding and laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) solutions. By driving Civan’s Dynamic Beam Laser (DBL) with Smart moveState-of-the-art laser scan head, welder and LPBF customers can now change beam shape orientation on the fly, enabling the use of non-symmetrical beam shapes in complex geometries and making previously impossible applications a reality .

CivanThe patented coherent beam combination modulates the beam shape as desired at speeds up to hundreds of megahertz without any moving parts. This brand new class of lasers uses a combination of optical phased array coherent beams to merge many single-mode laser beams into one larger beam. The light from each laser overlaps other beams in the far field, creating a diffraction pattern that allows the shape of the beam to be manipulated in real time. Phase modulators control individual beams, and the resulting interference pattern can be adjusted to maximize beam spot position and produce various shape patterns inscribed by beam movement.

In addition to beam shape, Civan’s DBLs also provide control over shape frequency, shape sequence and depth of field. The ability to control these parameters is a powerful tool for optimizing capillary evaporation, melt flow, and melt solidification for any laser material processing application. Such control eliminates the formation of pores, spatter, and cracks while increasing feed rates and speeds in welding and additive manufacturing applications.

“Smart Move offers the fastest and most accurate scanning solutions available,” says Civan CEO, Dr. Eyal Shekel. “Integrating our dynamic beam laser with state-of-the-art scanner technology enables welder and LPBF customers to not only improve welding feed rates and additive manufacturing speeds, but also enable applications previously impossible.”

Civan and Smart move have completed the development of a scanner for LPBF, which has been delivered to a major manufacturer of LPBF systems. Another scanner was made for BBW Lasertechnik and will be integrated into a welding system. Civan and Smart Move are collaborating on a project with the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology to develop a process for soldering bipolar plates used in fuel cells.

Each fuel cell requires 300 to 400 bipolar plates, a few hundred microns thick, with a weld bead of 3 to 6 m. Demand for bipolar plates is high, but previous efforts by other companies to increase the welding speed of bipolar plates to over 0.5 m/s have resulted in welding defects. Civan, Smart Move and Fraunhofer ILT now lead this program, called the eureka project. The three organizations aim to use a galvo scanner and advanced real-time process monitoring to control beam oscillation at megahertz frequencies to increase the speed and accuracy of welding bipolar plates without introducing defects.

Abdul J. Gaspar