Original Date: 03/08/1999
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Laser Cladding
Many techniques are currently used in industry to repair and restore damaged/worn surfaces of high value components. Some of these long-standing practices are being phased out due to the inherent environmental problems they produce. Chrome plating is no longer acceptable due to its environmental restrictions. Cladding the damaged surface also has drawbacks and restrictions depending on component, use, and specifications. Conventional cladding requires high heat input which often leads to part distortion and material malformation. This process also involves pre-machining of the surface so that a layer of weld can be applied and machined to the original specifications of the component.
The Applied Research Laboratory at the Pennsylvania State University (ARL Penn State) has taken the lead in the development of laser cladding. This method uses low heat input which eliminates residual stress and distortion problems. By providing a true metallurgical bond with the parent material of the component being repaired, laser cladding produces minimal material malformation between the filler material and substrate of the component. The ARL Penn State proved this technology by testing various filler materials, substrates, and lasers. This ability to clad a wide variety of filler materials and base materials has also been demonstrated and successfully transferred into industry for real-world applications.
One example involved a local manufacturer who had to go offshore to clad weld its valve body seats. This process required an extensive post-weld machining operation when the valve body seats were returned, resulting in a significant loss of high value material. Working with this manufacturer, the ARL Penn State developed and transferred a process that enabled the manufacturer to perform the machining operation by using laser cladding. As a result, the manufacturer realized significant cost savings and was able to maintain and control the entire process in- house. The ARL Penn State is continuing to find applications and benefits of laser cladding, and is working with customers to help them transition this technology into everyday operations.
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