SINTEF and NTNU are investing in a robotic laser station for advanced welding. They see new opportunities for increased productivity in combining fibre lasers with arc welding. Erik Vännman, a sales executive at Permanova, is convinced that the laser station will have a positive impact on Norwegian industry: “An industrial country like Norway must have new laser expertise in order to develop new joint methods.”
Laser welding and hybrid welding are now a real alternative for increasing productivity and achieving huge cost savings. “Hybrid” is the term used for the process in which MIG/MAG and lasers are combined. Laser welding can result in welding speeds of up to 10 m/min, which is significantly quicker than pure MIG/MAG. Hybrid welding can be applied to thicker materials, where a welding speed of up to 2 to 3 m/min can be achieved.
Arc welding has historically been used for welding in the shipbuilding, oil, and gas industries. The most productive of these welding facilities have operated in Norway over the last 30 to 40 years, offering powder arc welding of sheet metal and longitudinal seams on pipes, as well as MIG-MAG and flux core welding.
High-power lasers hit the market in the early 2000s, generating significant international interest. High-power fibre lasers provide a deeper burn-in level and higher efficiency than CO2 and Nd: YAG lasers. SINTEF and NTNU are therefore investing in a 16kW laser station that can carry out robot-based laser and hybrid welding. In addition, welding can be performed as a surface treatment and heat treatment, which together pave the way for research and innovation that benefit Norwegian industry and public administration.
The laser station has been purchased with the support of the Research Council of Norway. Permanova Lasersystem AB is responsible for the delivery and installation of all the systems and components, including the safety system.
Permanova has delivered many laser stations to both institutes and industry, developing long-term relationships in the process. “We’re looking forward to a partnership where we can assist with our wealth of knowledge,” says Erik. Unique to this station is the high-power laser, which will pave the way for new laser applications in the offshore industry. Permanova has adapted the integration of the laser station and safety system to the unusually high power of the laser. Gustav Axelson, a project manager at Permanova, explains that TCP (where the laser beam is located) is monitored and limited to only permitted directions. Gustav believes that “this laser station will encourage companies to invest in laser technology. We can see that the opportunity to test laser technology is opening many doors to new applications.”