Original Date: 03/08/1999
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Laser Cutting and Welding of Lightweight Structures
The Applied Research Laboratory at the Pennsylvania State University (ARL Penn State) is a leader in developing laser technology processes for cutting, welding, and fabricating lightweight structures. Components formerly made from castings are now being examined as candidates for fabrication using laser technology processes. In most cases, this technology reduces weight without sacrificing the functionality or design requirements of the finished product. Depending on the application, a laser formed fabrication can usually be produced at equal cost to conventional casting.
Laser fabricating takes advantage of common shapes of material (e.g., plates, pipes) to produce components that normally require a casting process. The machining times for finished products are significantly reduced due to the near-net shape of the fabrication. Using these laser fabrication processes, the ARL Penn State demonstrated the process on several projects where weight and functionality were critical factors. The laboratory designed and fabricated lightweight panels which are being used on a Naval warship as an antennae support platform. The use of these panels resulted in a weight reduction of 20,000 pounds for this foundation platform. The panels can also be used on a variety of applications without sacrificing structural stability and strength, while providing a significant reduction in weight.
The ARL Penn State transferred this technology to two Naval shipyards for further applications. By leading the way in the development of laser fabrication processes, the ARL Penn State is helping industry find better ways to produce quality products at competitive costs.
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