Laser welder vs. TIG welder
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    Default Laser welder vs. TIG welder

    I have a project that requires a fair bit of welding. Aluminum on aluminum. wall thicknesses from 1/8 in to 1/4 in. See image below (roughly 4 x 8 ft).

    I have to buy a welder for this job. I came across this LightWeld laser system. It looks interesting. They claim much higher speed welding and far more flexibility overall. Anyone have experience with this system? How does it compare to TIG?

    Handheld Laser Welding System for Manual Welding Applications | IPG Photonics

    I don't need full length continuous welds. My guess is that ~1 in welds spaced 1 or 2 inches apart will be fine.


    Thanks.


    frame_001.jpg

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    The lasers look cool

    Being I have a Miller 350P mig welder, if I was doing it, I would just buy the push pull gun for that and go to town. Otherwise any other Pulse mig with push pull gun, maybe even a dual pulse machine would be fast.

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    You can contact various vendors and ask for demonstrations. I'd do this, especially as you seem to not have much experience with the processes.

    You'll also want to invest in good fixturing and cleaning methods, they can be just as critical to a successful end product as the welder (and weldor) themselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JP Machining View Post
    The lasers look cool

    Being I have a Miller 350P mig welder, if I was doing it, I would just buy the push pull gun for that and go to town. Otherwise any other Pulse mig with push pull gun, maybe even a dual pulse machine would be fast.
    Yes, that sounds tempting. While I have a Miller MIG welder already, it's an older one (~20 years), which means I would have to buy a new machine. I don't necessarily mind but I thought I should do a little research on available options.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milland View Post
    You can contact various vendors and ask for demonstrations. I'd do this, especially as you seem to not have much experience with the processes.

    You'll also want to invest in good fixturing and cleaning methods, they can be just as critical to a successful end product as the welder (and weldor) themselves.
    Yup, zero experience with laser welding. I would definitely want to try it before making a decision.

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    that looks really interesting, but I'm highly skeptical.

    1) sounds too good to be true.

    2) all we have to go on is the sellers pitch.

    3) how much is it?

    4) is it real? we don't even know if it is an available and reasonably reliable product. without some track record, do you want to be the "beta tester" at best, "sucker" at worst

    5) without a accredited 3rd party standards and some real world testing of a new type of weld you are wide open to liability.

    6) the welds shown look to be mostly in thin steel, and it says it can do 4MM aluminum, but as we know, even reputable manufacturers can be "optimistic".

    who knows, might be THE hot new thing, but I'd say hang on to your cash, buy something proven.

    you don't say what your situation is, Pro shop, new venture, well funded hobbyist? that will orient your compass here, if you have lots of time and dollars, might be fun to experiment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyanidekid View Post
    that looks really interesting, but I'm highly skeptical.
    Pro shop, new venture, well funded hobbyist? that will orient your compass here, if you have lots of time and dollars, might be fun to experiment.
    Engineering and prototype fabrication for various domains, from aerospace to commercial. Definitely not a production shop. We have Haas and Bridgeport mills and Miller MIG welders (older ones that can't do Aluminum).

    I spoke to the rep. They seem legit. Large aerospace companies I used to work for bought them. I might be able to call someone I know (if they are still there) and ask what they think. No, I am not looking for an experiment. I asked if I could rent one for a week or two. They don't have anyone renting them yet. They said soon.

    For now it looks like a Miller new-gen MIG might be the ticket. Not sure if the push-pull gun is a requirement, I need to learn more. I definitely can't go TIG, it might be too slow for it to make sense.

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    How many of those assemblies do you need to make? If it's a lot then MIG setup is the way to go. If it's a handful I'd lean towards TIG.

    I'm skeptical of that laser welder with no provisions for filler material. My experience with aluminum TIG is that autogenous welds can lack strength and are extremely sensitive to fit and joint quality (no gaps).

    That thing looks neat for stainless or other alloys that autogenous weld well especially if you can make perfect joints. I'd definitely want some samples in aluminum before investing to make sure strength is acceptable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by martin_05 View Post
    Engineering and prototype fabrication for various domains, from aerospace to commercial. Definitely not a production shop. We have Haas and Bridgeport mills and Miller MIG welders (older ones that can't do Aluminum).

    I spoke to the rep. They seem legit. Large aerospace companies I used to work for bought them. I might be able to call someone I know (if they are still there) and ask what they think. No, I am not looking for an experiment. I asked if I could rent one for a week or two. They don't have anyone renting them yet. They said soon.

    For now it looks like a Miller new-gen MIG might be the ticket. Not sure if the push-pull gun is a requirement, I need to learn more. I definitely can't go TIG, it might be too slow for it to make sense.
    ok, that's something to go on . regardless of what you find out about the laser unit, it is essential to know something about aluminum, if you don't already know. its properties, and in particular as regards to welding. cleaning is the key, and how you clean, and with what, and under what conditions and how long before welding, etc... but ...

    if you are a prototype shop, I'd think GTAW (TIG) would be indispensable, why "definitely can't go TIG?"

    I'm inclined to think latest gen GMAW (MIG) is most practical for some volume, but, you still MUST mind the basics, and thats where GTAW experience can help.

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    Very curious if you get a price on the IPG system?

    I will be having weld samples run by IPG (as well as Coherent/Rofin and Amada) in a few weeks. This will be traditional micro medical work though, .001"-.005" stainless wire. For three to four axis systems they seem to run in the $150K and up range.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Riggerson View Post
    How many of those assemblies do you need to make?
    A couple of prototypes. If it all works out, more. At that stage we are likely to work with an outside shop (maybe).

    Yeah, MIG is looking like the ticket.

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    Quote Originally Posted by newtonsapple View Post
    Very curious if you get a price on the IPG system?

    I will be having weld samples run by IPG (as well as Coherent/Rofin and Amada) in a few weeks. This will be traditional micro medical work though, .001"-.005" stainless wire. For three to four axis systems they seem to run in the $150K and up range.
    Nothing official. The word seems to be that the handheld system is about $25K.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyanidekid View Post
    why "definitely can't go TIG?"
    Slower than MIG?

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    Quote Originally Posted by martin_05 View Post
    Nothing official. The word seems to be that the handheld system is about $25K.
    That doesn't seem too bad if it can be as productive as it looks in the right application.

    The chinese/alibaba versions run $8k-16K.

    It will be interesting to hear what the limitations are in the real world, because it looks pretty awesome.

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    If you're only going to make a couple I'd do TIG and accept the reduced cycle time. You already own a MIG welder for general purpose work. TIG adds a ton of versatility to your shop. You can pretty much weld anything you'd need to with a TIG welder.

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    Why does a laser welder need a ground clamp? It does appear to use shielding gas, which makes sense... I don't see any filler rod in any of their videos, did any of you?

    IPG is well known player in fiber laser....

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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_machine View Post
    Why does a laser welder need a ground clamp?
    So you can't attempt to play Jedi Warrior before discovering that the laser is invisible and your buddy is blind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_machine View Post
    Why does a laser welder need a ground clamp? It does appear to use shielding gas, which makes sense... I don't see any filler rod in any of their videos, did any of you?

    IPG is well known player in fiber laser....
    Reading between the lines...I think the welder detects contact with the workpiece through the grounding circuit. In their videos they say that the tip has to be in contact with the workpiece or the laser won't turn on. I think it's a safety feature.

    Also, you can add a wire feeder to the gun. What they told me is that it works very well without wire if the gaps are small negligible. If you have gaps you have to fill you need the wire feeder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by newtonsapple View Post
    The chinese/alibaba versions run $8k-16K.
    Ah, yes, but what's the compromise?

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    Quote Originally Posted by martin_05 View Post
    Ah, yes, but what's the compromise?
    Oh, I wouldn't touch the Chinese ones at this point, as it is highly likely you end up with an expensive brick.

    I think the IPG at $25K is pretty reasonable. Particularly given the power output when compared to their CNC controlled systems. Let us know how it is if you get a demo.


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