Laser welding is the process of joining metals with a laser welder. This process is especially useful for joining cast iron. First and foremost, laser welding is not the only way to join cast iron. There are many other methods that might be more suitable for your situation. It should be noted that these methods are often more expensive than most alternatives.
Today we are going to discuss everything you need to know about laser welding cast iron, from learning about different options, costs, and benefits right through to the best guide. Keep reading below for all of the details.
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What is Laser Welding?
Laser welding is the process of welding metals with a certified laser welder. This method is especially useful for welding cast iron. When joining cast iron with a laser, the laser vaporizes the surface of the iron and then reacts with the surface of the material you are welding. The weld is created when the iron cools, creating a strong bond that lasts for a very long time. A laser weld can be used to join cast iron, aluminum, stainless steel, and many other metals. However, we recommend not welding carbon steel or aluminum to avoid damage to the materials.
Why Need to Weld Cast Iron With a Laser?
Laser welding is also a great option if you want to join large materials, like tanks, pumps, industrial boilers, or cast iron plumbing fixtures. The welding process is faster and less damaging compared to other methods of welding. Laser welding cast iron can be a challenging task due to its tendency to crack when exposed to heat. Using a laser for cast iron welding can provide a solution to this problem. Laser welding offers a precise and controlled heat input, which minimizes the risk of cracking.
Laser welding produces a narrow heat affected zone, reducing the amount of distortion and preserving the material’s strength. It’s also allows for the joining of dissimilar materials, which can be useful in situations where cast iron parts need to be joined to other materials. Overall, laser welding offers an efficient and effective solution for welding cast iron.
Advantage of Laser Welding Cast Iron
Laser welding has several advantages when it comes to welding cast iron. Here are some of the key benefits:
Reduced cracking: Cast iron is prone to cracking when exposed to heat, but laser welding offers a precise and controlled heat input that minimizes this risk.
Narrow heat-affected zone: Laser welding produces a narrow heat affected zone, which reduces distortion and preserves the material’s strength.
High welding speed: Laser welding is a fast process, which can help increase productivity and reduce costs.
High welding quality: Laser welding produces high quality welds with minimal defects, which can improve the overall performance of the welded parts.
Joining of dissimilar materials: Laser welding can join cast iron with other materials, which can be useful in a variety of applications.
Overall, the use of laser welding for cast iron offers several advantages over traditional welding methods, making it a popular choice in many industries.
Disadvantage of Laser Welding Cast Iron
While laser welding offers many advantages for welding cast iron, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider:
Cost: Laser welding equipment can be expensive, so it may not be a cost-effective solution for small-scale welding operations.
Operator skill: Laser welding requires a high level of skill and expertise to operate properly, which may require additional training and certification.
Safety concerns: Laser welding cast iron can produce hazardous fumes and radiation, so appropriate safety measures must be taken to protect workers and the environment.
Limited thickness range: Laser welding is most effective for thinner sections of cast iron, so it may not be suitable for thicker parts.
Surface preparation: Laser welding requires clean and properly prepared surfaces to achieve high-quality welds, which can be time-consuming and costly.
Finally, while laser welding offers many benefits for welding cast iron, it is important to carefully consider the potential drawbacks before deciding to use this method.
Different Types of Cast Iron for Welding
There are quite a few different types of cast iron for welding. These include carbon steel, low alloy steel, high alloy steel, grey iron, and ductile iron. It’s important to know the difference between these different types of cast iron, since this will help you choose the appropriate one for your application.
Grey Iron – Grey iron is the cheapest type of cast iron, and it’s the type most often found in plumbing fixtures. Grey iron is cheaper, but it isn’t recommended for welding.
Low Alloy Steel – Low alloy steel is the most commonly used type of cast iron for welding. It has a low enough alloy content that it can be welded without having to provide any extra protection against corrosion.
High Alloy Steel – High alloy steel was once very common in the cast iron industry, but it’s rare today. It’s also not recommended for welding.
How to weld Cast Iron with a laser welder:
Here are the basic steps for welding cast iron with a laser welder:
Prepare the surfaces: The surfaces to be welded should be clean and free of any oil, grease, or other contaminants. The edges of the joint should be chamfered to allow for better penetration.
Set up the laser welder: The laser power, pulse duration, and spot size should be set according to the thickness of the material and the desired weld characteristics.
Position the parts: The parts to be welded should be clamped securely in place, with the joint held tightly together to ensure proper penetration.
Begin welding: The laser beam is focused on the joint and moved along the seam at a steady speed. The laser beam melts the surfaces, and the material solidifies behind the laser as it moves along the joint.
Inspect the weld: After the welding is complete, the weld should be inspected for defects such as cracks, porosity, or incomplete penetration. Any defects should be repaired before the part is put into service.
Overall, laser welding can be an effective method for welding cast iron, but it requires skill and experience to achieve high quality welds. Proper preparation, setup, and inspection are essential to ensure a successful weld.
Costs and benefits of welding cast iron
You can weld cast iron with a laser at a very reasonable cost. As mentioned above, this generally works best with low alloy steel and grey iron. Low alloy steel can be welded without any additional protection against corrosion, while grey iron is the cheapest type of cast iron. One of the biggest benefits of welding cast iron with a laser is the low heat input.
In some cases, you can weld this type of material with less than 10W of laser power. This means that you can weld without risking damage to your laser. Another benefit of welding with a laser is that you can join materials that are non-ferrous, like concrete or non-metallic materials. This is not possible with other methods of welding.
Which welder to use for weld cast iron?
You will also need to choose the right welder for welding cast iron. Some welder types are better suited for welding cast iron than others.
Gas fueled – This type of welder is best suited for welding low alloy steel and grey iron. Gas- fueled welders are the most common type of welder used for welding cast iron.
Arc Focused – This type of welder is best suited for welding high alloy steel. It’s also suitable for welding low alloy steels, and high alloy steels.
Laser – Laser welders are the most common type of welder used for welding cast iron. They are also suitable for welding low alloy steel, high alloy steel, and many other materials.
Laser welding is becoming more common as a way to join cast iron. It can be difficult to find a welder that’s experienced with this process. We have outlined the advantages and disadvantages of laser welding cast iron with a laser, and we have reviewed the best welding guides.