Beam shaping solutions provider Cailabs (Rennes, France) has released its CANUNDA-HP laser welding head for submillimeter ring beam shaping at powers up to 16 kW. The development has the potential to improve processes, such as the highly complex welding of copper for the batteries of tomorrow’s electric vehicles (EVs).
Using beam shaping improves the performance of laser welding processes. However, there is currently no solution for optimal beam shaping that is compatible with powers above 8 kW—Cailabs’ laser welding head has met this challenge. Gwenn Pallier, product line manager at Cailabs says, “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.” The fully reflective design allows for optimal cooling of the optics, and thus compatibility with lasers up to 24 kW.
Cailabs has 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,” continues Pallier. To meet the specific challenges of the high-power world, CANUNDA-HP focuses 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 has been validated with the Institut Maupertuis (Bruz, France), a center of industrial expertise in laser processes. Cailabs and Institut Maupertuis have been collaborating since September 2019 with the goal of improving high-power laser processes by laser beam shaping. The collaboration has validated operation at a power of 16 kW, demonstrating a significant improvement compared to other solutions on the market: the elimination of focus shift or thermal lensing during the process.
The Institut Maupertuis tested the head’s ability to produce excellent-quality welds, especially on conventional stainless steel sheets used in the automotive industry. Off-the-shelf ring shaping was a key step in developing the high-power CANUNDA-HP product line at Cailabs. “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,” says Fabien Ghez, Chief Sales Officer at Cailabs.
Cailabs will continue developing off-the-shelf solutions for kilowatt lasers by investigating new beam shapes. “We would like to offer solutions adapted to the different high-power laser machining markets, in particular laser additive manufacturing. The volume for this market is projected to double by 2025," concludes Ghez.