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Proceedings Paper

CO2 laser welding of magnesium alloys
Author(s): Mohammed Dhahri; Jean Eric Masse; J. F. Mathieu; Gerard Barreau; Michel L. Autric
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Paper Abstract

Metallic alloys with a low mass density can be considered to be basic materials in aeronautic and automotive industry. Magnesium alloys have better properties than aluminum alloys in respect of their low density and high resistance to traction. The main problems of magnesium alloy welding are the inflammability, the crack formation and the appearance of porosity during the solidification. The laser tool is efficient to overcome the difficulties of manufacturing by conventional processing. Besides, the laser processing mainly using shielding gases allows an effective protection of the metal against the action of oxygen and a small heat affected zone. In this paper, we present experimental results about 5 kW CO2 laser welding of 4 mm-thick magnesium alloy plates provided by Eurocopter France. The focused laser beam has about 0.15 mm of diameter. We have investigated the following sample: WE43, alloy recommended in aeronautic and space applications, is constituted with Mg, Y, Zr, rare earth. More ductile, it can be used at high temperatures until 250 degrees Celsius for times longer than 5000 hours without effects on its mechanical properties. A sample of RZ5 (French Norm: GZ4TR, United States Norm ZE41) is composed of Mg, Zn, Zr, La, rare earth. This alloy has excellent properties of foundry and it allows to the realization of components with complex form. Also, it has a good resistance and important properties of tightness. The parameters of the process were optimized in the following fields: laser power: 2 to 5 kW, welding speed: 1 to 4.5 m/min, focal position: -3 mm to +3 mm below or on the top of the metal surface, shielding gas: helium with a flow of 10 to 60 l/min at 4 bars. Metallurgical analyses and mechanical control are made (macroscopic structure, microscopic structure, interpretations of the structures and localization of possible defects, analyse phases, chemical composition, hardness, tensile test etc.) to understand the parameters influence of welding on the obtained beads. For a given laser power, we considered that the welding speed as well as the focal position strongly influence the macroscopic and microscopic welding aspect, whereas the dependence with the flow of the protection gas is weak. For WE43, the bead appears correct in the macroscopic scale for a laser power of 2 kW, a speed of 2 m/min, a focal position on the metal surface or 1 mm under; and an output helium gas of 50 l/min. For RZ5, a correct weld is obtained with a 3 kW laser power, a welding speed of 2 m/min, a focal position of 1.5 mm under the surface and a 50 l/min output helium gas. The microscopic examination showed that the size of the grains has clearly reduced (reduction factor can be up to 35) without formation of porosities, neither cracks nor inclusions; indeed the measured Vickers microhardness of the weld bead is slightly higher than the basic metal. Experiments show that we obtained adequate parameters for high quality welding without using filler material. In future, we plan to weld at higher speed by optimizing the various parameters of the laser welding (power, focal position welding speed and gas flow, ...). Furthermore, we will try to weld samples with a thickness superior than 4 mm.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 February 2000
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 3888, High-Power Lasers in Manufacturing, (7 February 2000); doi: 10.1117/12.377083
Show Author Affiliations
Mohammed Dhahri, Institute for Research on Nonequilibrium Phenomena (France)
Jean Eric Masse, CLAIRE (France) and Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts et Metiers (France)
J. F. Mathieu, CLAIRE (France)
Gerard Barreau, Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts et Metiers (France)
Michel L. Autric, Institute for Research on Nonequilibrium Phenomena (France)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3888:
High-Power Lasers in Manufacturing
Xiangli Chen; Tomoo Fujioka; Akira Matsunawa, Editor(s)

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