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Laser Cladding Upstages TIG for Repairing Industrial Gas Turbines

Posted In Industrial & Technology - By Techtiplib on Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 With No Comments »

Industrial gas turbines are the muscle behind drive compressors, oil rigs, oil field pumps, and power generation. Their components can be expensive to replace and manufacture, so maintaining them in peak condition is the best way to protect these investments. These components don’t have it easy; they are routinely exposed to extremely hot gases, which could make them vulnerable to corrosion, erosion, and extreme wear and tear. To avert this, they are often made from super-alloys, but these alloys can make repairs by conventional welding difficult, if not impossible.  

Laser Cladding Upstages TIG for Repairing Industrial Gas TurbinesFor this reason, laser cladding is quickly becoming a preferable method for coating industrial gas turbine components. This is because laser cladding provides increased weldability for temperature sensitive surfaces, a broad array of material availability, and of course, a highly localized heat input. For nearly two decades, aero engines and industrial gas turbines have been driving laser cladding design and utilization innovation.

The advantages

First, laser cladding creates minimal or no substrate distortion. For mold tools and sheet-metal, which could be overstressed and damaged by conventional welding processes, this is crucial. TIG welding tends to cause more welding defects due to its substantially higher heat input, which is why it is less preferred for hot gas path component repairs. As a result of the emergence of laser cladding, the weldability of temperature-sensitive materials like high-carbon steels and superalloys, has benefited.  

Another advantage of laser cladding is its ability to provide a higher degree of geometric accuracy. This results in decreased amounts of material needed versus conventional welding. In fact, through laser cladding operators can achieve a cleaner finish unless material overhang, realizing a near-net shape buildup virtually impossible with TIG welding.

For example, in a blade tip project requiring a 6.mm buildup, TIG welding would overshoot create a 2 mm overhang, which would have to be removed, whereas a laser cladding could produce around .3 mm. Because laser cladding uses a computer numerical control (CNC) system, it supports multiple reproductions of high quality welding throughout production.

Sources:

“Laser cladding replaces TIG for industrial gas turbines”, Industrial Laser Solutions, http://www.industrial-lasers.com/articles/print/volume-27/issue-06/features/laser-cladding-replaces-tig-for-industrial-gas-turbines.html

“HighLight D-Series”, Coherent, http://www.coherent.com/products/?1993/HighLight-D-Series

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