Wire feeding in laser metal joining applications is all about precise wire positioning relative to a laser beam and accuracy in wire feeding speed. Wire feeding system layout and configuration are key parts in ensuring a successful application that makes the communication between user, integrator, and equipment manufacturers, at early project stages, highly important for a laser metal joining cell performance.Let’s take a look at the ways your operation can be successful with consideration of these crucial tasks.
Certain laser metal joining processes, such as brazing or sometimes welding for instance, involve filler metal heating to the point where it can change from a solid to a liquid state, which allows it to flow and create a bond once hardened. The metal is delivered in the form of wire.
Wire can vary vastly in laser metal joining applications. The most general, or common, types you will see are soft wires (aluminum) and hard wires (steel, silicone bronze). Based on the wire type you are working with and the wire feeding distance, your system will be configured differently.
When considering the important factors of what makes your laser welding operation successful, think about precision and performance.
Laser beams are extremely precise, typically between one to three millimeters in diameter depending on the process. You need to lead wire directly into the spot without any deviation. Anything as little as .1 millimeters off can potentially have negative effects on the quality of the weld.
Accuracy of wire feed speed into a process is also very important. Typically, the accuracy is defined as a percentage of a wire feed speed set (required) value. Wire feeding system specifications typically show from one to five deviation from a set value as their accuracy success rate. Deviations above 5% from the wire feed speed set value will have negative effects on joints quality and appearance because such laser metal joining processes require exact amounts of wire for integrity, and in case of visibility for appearance joints. This is why the requirements to joints unity and appearance are very high with this application type.
Performance of wire feeding system is extremely important because the majority of systems are used in production lines that are in operation 2-3 shifts/day, 6-7 days/week.
All of this accuracy and performance are integrated into the systems modules design.
Modular system design allows achieving most effective configuration for accuracy and performance in any particular project during the system layout and configuration period with the user and system integrator.
When feeding a wire in laser applications, the precision and accuracy depend on the wire feed system. In our case, we suggest the Master Feed System by Abicor Binzel. In this system, the following system modules provide exact wire positioning, along with high accuracy and long-term trouble-free performance of the system. The basic configuration consists of five main products:
- The adaptable Flex lead with torch body and wire feeding tip to feed wire in laser metal joining process.
- The reliable MF3 front drive to run wire with high accuracy speed.
- The robust Master Liner wire feeding line to route wire from the package to MF3 drive.
- The intelligent communication/system control unit E-box to control wire feeding process parameters.
- The MFS Service software, which is up to 8-channel real time process data acquisition/visualization/managing and system diagnostic tool to ensure all of this runs smoothly.
When you are ready to get started, your wire feeding distance, wire type and package are of the utmost importance for both accuracy and cost-effective system configuration. This setup process is the first thing to consider for any wire feeding application. The system modular design and wide selection of the system modules allows adaptability to possible setup changes later, though in some cases an additional investment may be required.
A wire delivery plan is typically developed by the user or the line integrator at the very start of a project. The user relays information to the integrator and the equipment manufacturer, Binzel USA in this case, to ensure the configuration process is done correctly and without errors. This is crucial as failures can, and likely will, occur during your operations process.
The plan should include the detailed locations of each module of the wire feed equipment. Start with the wire. Wire needs to be specified by the wire type, diameter, and packaging. Then consider, what is the wire feeding required distance. How long is the wire feeding conduit?
Wire packages can be anywhere from three to twenty-five meters, or even more from the process, which is important and will affect the system configuration. It is also helpful to know the wire feeding line elevation, which sometimes can be up to five meters, depending on laser cell layout. Wire feeding lines longer than six to eight meters with elevation higher than 2 to 3 meters require additional MF3 drive either somewhere in wire feeding line or in close proximity to a wire package. The system control unit E-box automatically recognizes whether it is a one or two drive system configuration. It adjusts the system control to either, as called Master Pull (1 drive) or Push-Push (2 drives digitally synchronized) version, thus no change in both Master controller and E-box I/O mapping and programming is needed.
Once you have the wire specifications figured out, the laser/robotic equipment is next. We will want to know the laser generator, laser processing optic and robot manufacturers and models to ensure correct wire feeding system configuration for given equipment. The wire feeding system will be tightly connected to the processing optic, which is why it is crucial to know each detail.
Overall, communication and laser cell information are key during the wire feeding system specification process. Providing all the necessary information to get both process and cost-effective wire feeding system setup is crucial for the success of your wire feeding process.
The most common difficulty we see is when users/system integrators are not communicating each segment of the setup correctly, or at all, which leads to potential ineffective system configuration. The input information is what ensures the accuracy of configuration.
Interested in learning more about the laser welding applications from ABICOR BINZEL? Check them out here.