Surface Enhancement Revolution: Laser Cladding Technology

Views: 45     Author: Rebecca     Publish Time: 2021-09-02      Origin: Site

There is a question always asked when we deal with big and costly machines: when some components are worn out, should we just throw it away and buy a new one, or we have them repaired or even enhanced? No matter from economical or environmental perspective, the latter is chosen by the majority, and there comes the repair methods for metal, such as welding overlays and chromium plating. But such solutions has very obvious shortcomings that have caused issues to the users, so laser cladding, as a revolutionary surface enhancement technology, come into our sight to dominate the metal repairing industry.


For starters, we need to know the working theory of laser cladding. Laser Cladding or Laser Deposition is a processing technique used for attaching one material to the surface of another in a controlled manner. A stream of a desired metallic powder is fed into a focused laser beam as it is scanned across the target surface, leaving behind a deposited coating of the chosen material. This solution has taken care of all the issues caused by traditional repairing methods with its superior advantages.


1. Excellent ROI: a real and promising gold mine to be discovered

As a new technology, laser cladding is a real and promising gold mine for you to discover. Let’s do a math to see how much profit we can get after making this purchase. Take hydraulic cylinders in mining industry as an example, we charge 450~ 550 usd for fixing 1 square meter, while our cost including powder, electricity is 200~300 usd, which leaves the margin around 250 usd. If we work with a 6kW laser cladding machine, we can cover 1 square meter in 2 hours. Let’s say we work 20 hours a day, we can make 2500 usd per day, which can totally pay you back in no more than 3 months. This is for low value components, let alone high value ones. The repair charge for those high value parts is always 20% of the price for a new one. So when I say it’s a gold mine, I mean it.


2. Enhancing wear and corrosion protection: enjoy a three times longer service life

Laser cladding is not only for repair, but also more of surface enhancement. Choices for deposition material include ferrous metals, such as stainless and carbon steel, plus cobalt- and nickel-based alloys, and aluminum, Inconel and titanium alloys. Compared with traditional welding techniques, laser cladding provides a high-speed thermal cycle that makes it possible to achieve higher hardness as well as much finer micro-structures with no cracks and no pores — two characteristics that help to resist wear and corrosion. With a coating like this, most workpieces can enjoy a three to five times longer service life even under the harsh environment.


3. Achieving metallurgical bonding: low risk of separation and delamination

Chromium plating is used to help metal from corrosion, but the coating is only physically attached to the substrate, which is prone to be abraded and worn. If we repair with laser cladding, we can achieve metallurgical bonding, which has a very low risk of separation and delamination, to ensure a longer performance life of the coatings, therefore the workpiece.  


4. Creating limited heat-affected zone: no trauma, no deformation

Laser cladding also offers the benefit of a limited heat-affected zone, which has numerous advantages: It reduces the amount of trauma to the part or workpiece, cuts down on the likelihood of deformations, and allows the process to take place alongside other critical areas that are less tolerant of heat, including adjacent edges and walls. That means laser cladding can add structural reinforcement to sensitive areas.


5. Fitting for automation and integration: into CNC operation and CAD-based processes

This retrofitment is a challenging task as laser cladding system consists of several subsystems such as laser power source, optical cladding head, powder feeder, and external cooling unit. These subsystems need to be mechanically as well as electrically integrated with the CNC machine. CAD-based automatic path generation and optimization for laser cladding robot can also be used in laser cladding manufacturing.


6. Repairing damaged parts instead of scrapping: a great way to recycle

Last but not least, we should always consider our environment. Instead of throwing away the worn-out parts, repair and enhancement seem to be more environmental-friendly. Let alone the enhanced surface is more money-saving and can have a longer service time. We should never say no to a win-win solution.


After going through all the benefits that laser cladding machines possess, I am sure you will reconsider your way to repair metal components. Senfeng laser, not only dedicated in machine development, but also our R&D department throws themselves into the research of powder combination and process improvement. We hammer at providing you a solution with best effect but at the minimal cost. Come talk to our specialist and get yourself an edge in this fast developing industry.

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