Cailabs develops welding head for high power ring beam shaping

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Cailabs, a French deep-tech company and global leader in beam shaping, has released the laser welding head, CANUNDA-HP, for submillimeter ring beam shaping at powers up to 16 kW. The head can be used to improve processes such as the highly complex welding of copper for the batteries of electric vehicles. 

A fully reflective laser head to improve laser welding processes

It’s well established that using beam shaping improves the performance of laser welding processes.

However, some processes require significant laser power and there is currently no solution for optimal beam shaping that is compatible with powers above 8 kW. Cailabs’ new laser head has met this challenge.

“The MPLC1 technology developed by Cailabs is very relevant for laser welding because other technologies cannot meet the very high power requirements,” explained Gwenn Pallier, product line manager at Cailabs.

“Only MPLC can achieve high-quality ring beam shaping that achieves a weld without projections. It can also maintain very high power to weld very thick or complex materials, such as copper.”

Indeed, the fully reflective design allows for optimal cooling of the optics, and thus compatibility with lasers up to 24 kW.

A compact product for use in industrial environments

Cailabs has always been committed to developing systems that are compatible with industrial use. “We’ve worked to design an optimal and stable beam shaping technology that can also be integrated into the welding work environment,” continued Gwenn Pallier. To meet the specific challenges of the high power world, CANUNDA-HP has been developed focusing in particular on the compactness of the system, its cooling, and the simplicity of installing it.

The developed laser head has been used in a conventional industrial environment and can be used on a robot arm. To facilitate its use, the laser welding head is compatible with many accessories, such as a shielding gas supply, on-axis alignment camera, and process control sensors.

Performance validated with the Institut Maupertuis, a center of industrial expertise in laser processes

Cailabs and Institut Maupertuis2, an expert in innovative laser processes, have been collaborating since September 2019 with the goal of improving high-power laser processes by laser beam shaping.

“Testing a fully reflective laser head seemed interesting to us to improve certain processes, in particular to be able to use more power while having as little focus shift as possible during the process. Additionally, Cailabs’ technology allows us to combine this advantage with the beam shaping that is being developed for high-power processes” explained David Lemaitre, Technical Director at the Institut Maupertuis.

Thus Cailabs, along with the Institut Maupertuis, has validated operating at a power of 16 kW. They have also demonstrated a significant improvement compared to other solutions on the market: the elimination of focus shift or thermal lensing during the process. Finally, the Institut Maupertuis was able to test the head’s ability to produce excellent quality welds, especially on conventional stainless steel sheets used in the automotive industry.

Addressing new applications with new shapes

Off-the-shelf ring shaping was a key step in developing the high-power CANUNDA-HP product line at Cailabs. It complements the existing customizable offering. “We can now offer a simple solution for the automotive and aeronautics industries. Moreover, we can offer an innovative product for the laser welding market, which will enable the development of new processes,” said Fabien Ghez, Chief Sales Officer at Cailabs.

Cailabs will continue developing off-the-shelf solutions for kW lasers by investigating new beam shapes. “We would like to offer solutions adapted to the different high-power laser machining markets, in particular additive laser manufacturing. The volume for this market is projected to double by 2025,” concluded Fabien Ghez.

[1] MPLC: Multi-Plan Light Conversion

[2] www.institutmaupertuis.fr

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