Laser Welding Copper to Stainless Steel: A Guide for Dissimilar Metals

Joining Dissimilar Metals: Laser Welding Copper to Stainless Steel with ViberLaser’s Handheld Laser Welder

At ViberLaser, we understand the challenges of working with dissimilar metals. Copper and stainless steel, for example, offer unique advantages but pose difficulties for traditional welding techniques. Here’s where our expertise in fiber laser welding comes in. This blog will guide you through laser welding copper to stainless steel using our advanced handheld laser welder. We’ll explore methods with and without wire feeding, providing valuable know-how for both beginners and experienced welders.

Laser Welding Copper to Stainless Steel: A Guide for Dissimilar Metals

Understanding the Materials:

Copper: A highly desirable metal for its excellent electrical conductivity and thermal properties. However, copper’s high reflectivity for certain laser wavelengths can make welding challenging.

Stainless Steel: Renowned for its corrosion resistance and strength. However, stainless steel has a lower thermal conductivity compared to copper, requiring careful heat management during welding.

Why Fiber Laser Welding?

Traditional welding methods like arc welding struggle with dissimilar metals due to the vast differences in thermal conductivity. Here’s where fiber laser welding shines:

  • Highly Focused Beam: Delivers a concentrated heat source, minimizing heat distortion and spatter.
  • Precise Control: Enables fine-tuned control over weld parameters like power and pulse duration, optimizing the weld for different material combinations.
  • Deep Penetration: Allows for deep welds without excessive heating of surrounding areas.

Laser Welding Copper to Stainless Steel: With and Without Wire Feeder

ViberLaser’s handheld laser welder offers the versatility to weld copper to stainless steel with or without a wire feeder. Let’s explore both methods:

Method 1: Laser Welding Without Wire Feeder (Keyhole Welding)

This method utilizes a high-power laser beam to create a deep penetration zone, called a keyhole, in the base material (typically stainless steel). The molten metal within the keyhole fuses with the surrounding material and the top layer of copper.

Know-How:

  • Laser Parameters: A crucial factor. Focus on using a higher power setting compared to welding similar metals. Pulse duration needs to be optimized to achieve deep penetration without excessive heat input.
  • Joint Preparation: Clean and degrease the joint surfaces thoroughly. A tight-fitting butt joint is recommended for optimal results.
  • Shielding Gas: While not always necessary, using inert gas like argon can prevent oxidation during welding, especially for thicker stainless steel.

Steps:

  1. Preparation: Clean and degrease the copper and stainless steel surfaces. Ensure a proper fit-up for the chosen joint type (typically butt joint).
  2. Laser Setting Selection: Consult the ViberLaser user manual or consult a ViberLaser expert to determine the optimal laser power, pulse duration, and travel speed for your specific material thickness and joint configuration.
  3. Welding: Direct the laser beam onto the joint seam while maintaining a steady travel speed. Ensure proper shielding gas coverage if used.
  4. Inspection: Allow the weld to cool and visually inspect for any defects like cracks or porosity. If necessary, adjust laser parameters and repeat the weld.

Method 2: Laser Welding with Wire Feeder

This method introduces a filler metal wire to supplement the molten pool and potentially improve weld strength and joint properties.

Know-How:

  • Wire Selection: Choose a filler metal compatible with both copper and stainless steel. Nickel-based alloys are often recommended.
  • Wire Feed Rate: The appropriate rate ensures sufficient filler metal enters the molten pool without hindering proper fusion.

Steps:

  1. Preparation: Similar to method 1, clean and degrease the joint surfaces. Ensure a proper fit-up for the chosen joint type (typically butt joint).
  2. Laser Setting and Wire Selection: Consult the ViberLaser user manual or a ViberLaser expert to determine the optimal laser power, pulse duration, travel speed, and compatible wire type for your specific application.
  3. Welding: Direct the laser beam onto the joint seam while simultaneously feeding the wire into the molten pool. Maintain a steady travel speed and wire feed rate for consistent weld quality.
  4. Inspection: Allow the weld to cool and visually inspect for any defects. If necessary, adjust laser parameters, wire feed rate, or wire type and repeat the weld.

Safety First!

Laser welding involves high-powered lasers and molten metal. Here are some essential safety precautions:

  • Always wear appropriate laser safety glasses with the correct optical density (OD) for your specific laser wavelength.
  • Ensure proper ventilation to remove welding fumes.
  • Wear protective clothing like gloves and fire-resistant garments.
  • Only operate the handheld laser welder after receiving proper training and certification.

Conclusion

Laser welding copper to stainless steel using ViberLaser’s handheld laser welder offers a precise and efficient.

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