Munkebo, Denmark --Lindø Welding Technology (LWT) is acquiring what it says is the world's largest commercially available ultrahigh-power laser -- effect of 32 kW -- for use in developing new laser welding, laser cutting, and laser cladding technology. The new laser, which will be put into operation by the end of this year (2012), will be specifically targeted at new welding methods for heavy section industries, most notably wind power, to weld structures such as towers and offshore foundations.
The LWT welding center was established this summer in the Lindø Technology Park by engineering consultancy Force Technology and LORC, a green energy test services group founded by major wind energy firms Dong Energy, Siemens, Vattenfall, and Vestas. Its stated directive was to obtain and implement the ultrahigh-power laser for cutting and welding thick steel plates.
Lasers have long been adopted in the automotive industry for cutting and welding due to advantages in speed, efficiency, and quality. Recently, though, "laser technology has reached a stage where the same good welding characteristics can be applied to heavy goods," according to LORC.
"The technology has the potential to re-innovate production technologies in a wide variety of industries – particularly those including welding," stated Christian Højerslev, CEO of LWT. In wind turbines, for example, fabricating the actual towers is a big contributor to the overall cost of making the overall structure. Automating the welding process used to make them with this new ultrahigh-power laser could speed up the process by up to 20×, and do it at far less expense, according to the group.
Update 9/17: Højerslev tells ILS that the "one of a kind" laser system will be supplied by Trumpf, consisting of two individual 16 kW lasers which via a special transport fiber will deliver 32 kW at the work piece.
While application in the local wind-turbine industry "is LWT's natural offset," the group sees the technology benefiting -- and is welcoming work with -- "any sector/industry that wishes to utilize laser technology: welding, cladding, cutting and ablation," he added.