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  • GE Unveils Ultrapowerful Laser Welding System
Apr 2011
NISKAYUNA, N.Y., April 19, 2011 — GE Global Research has unveiled a 20-kW high-power hybrid laser arc welding (HLAW) system, one of the largest in North America. The system wields enough power to weld steels nearly 1 in. thick in a single pass versus the up-to-a-half dozen passes required with current welding technologies.

HLAW is expected to dramatically increase the speed at which industrial products are manufactured. For example, going from conventional welding processes to HLAW to weld the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga could have saved nearly 800 tons of weld metal (equal to the weight of more than 600 compact cars) and reduced the welding time by 80 percent. GE is exploring this technology for application across its infrastructure manufacturing operations, including the oil and gas, power generation, aviation and rail industries.

GE's hybrid laser arc welding (HLAW) system welds a steel pipe. At 20 kW, it is one of the largest HLAW facilities in North America, wielding enough power to weld steels nearly 1 in. thick in a single pass. (Image: Business Wire)

“Manufacturing is becoming increasingly high-tech, with the introduction of advanced tools and processes that can make products better, faster and at substantially lower costs,” said Luana Iorio, the company's manufacturing technologies leader.

Welding is fundamental to the manufacture of virtually any product made with metal components. It also is one of the most time-consuming elements of a manufacturing process. Furthermore, it has traditionally taken place within a centralized manufacturing operation, which often is a great distance from a finished product’s final destination. This makes shipping more complex and costly. New, breakthrough-manufacturing tools such as the HLAW system eventually will break the mold, enabling parts to be welded in a fraction of the time it takes today and with greater consistency.

“The portability of this new-high power laser platform will enable us to think very differently about how parts are welded,” Iorio said. “For example, we can now think about welding parts on site where a product will be located, as opposed to the traditional manufacturing floor. This also will simplify and reduce time in the shipping process.”
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