Laser Applications Laboratory
Laser Heat Treatment
Project description: Optimization of laser beam heat treatment.
Category: Project with industrial partner (Caterpillar and USCAR)
Heat treating with lasers allows selective surface hardening against wear with little or no distortion of the component. Because this eliminates much part reworking that is currently done, the laser system's capital cost is recovered in a short time. An inert, absorbent coating for laser heat treatment has also been developed that eliminates the fumes generated by conventional paint coatings during the heat-treating process with CO2 laser beams.
One consideration crucial to the success of a heat treatment operation is control of the laser beam irradiance on the part surface. The optimal irradiance distribution is driven by the thermodynamics of the laser-material interaction and by the part geometry.
Typically, irradiances between 500-5000 W/cm^2 satisfy the thermodynamic constraints and allow the rapid surface heating and minimal total heat input required. For general heat treatment, a uniform square or rectangular beam is one of the best options. For some special applications or applications where the heat treatment is done on an edge or corner of the part, it may be better to have the irradiance decrease near the edge to prevent melting.
The proper beam irradiance distribution is generated by using beam shaping
optics. The three basic techniques are integrators, scanners and special combinations
of optics. These techniques and representative beam profiles (irradiance distributions)
are illustrated above. More details can be found in Industrial Laser Review,
pp. 12-15, February 1996.
Last Modified: Tue, September 14, 2010 5:30 PM