Essen, Germany - The exhibition “Schweissen und Schneiden” (Welding and Cutting) takes place here every four years. At this year’s event (September 12-17), there were 1052 exhibitors from 44 countries. Germany, represented by 479 exhibitors; Italy, with 133 exhibitors; and China, with 71, were the top three participating countries. More than 70,000 visitors from more than 90 different countries broke the 2001 attendance record.
A large number of companies presented laser and laser-related equipment for welding and cutting applications, verifying that lasers have found their place in the industrial community. We were especially impressed by the following.
An article in the September 13th issue of the Daily Fair Newspaper focused on new developments and applications of lasers for welding and cutting. This article mentioned diode-pumped Nd:YAG, diode, and disc lasers but didn’t mention fiber lasers. This was odd considering that applications featuring fiber lasers were demonstrated on the exhibition floor.
VPL (Vietz Pipeline Equipment GmbH, Hannover, Germany; www.vietz.de) showed a mobile fiber laser system developed for welding of pipelines. The beam from a 17kW Ytterbium fiber laser is fiber delivered with a special robot used to manipulate the focusing head. Pipes with wall thicknesses up to 11 mm can be welded with this system, which was developed in cooperation with BIAS (Bremen).
Daihen (Osaka, Japan), represented by its European representative OTC GmbH (Mönchengladbach; www.otc-daihen.de), showed a work cell where a robot equipped with a fiber laser performed a number of different welding and cutting jobs.
A wireless teach pendant that leaves the operator free to move through the work cell during the teach mode without the need to worry about the cable routing was shown by Comau (Torino, Italy; www.comau.com). The Swing laser system from this company is designed to make stitches while the robot is moving with a constant speed and the laser beam is swinging to reduce the time between welding of stitches to almost zero. - MHHVD