1993-09-01

Advances in the Application of Laser Cutting, Drilling, and Welding Aerospace Parts 932544

Multi-axis laser materials processing systems are having a significant impact on the way aircraft and turbine engine parts are being cut, drilled, and welded. The success of laser cutting, drilling and welding is based in the ability to concentrate laser energy into a small area and to produce features having narrow heat affected zones. Reduced tooling expense, fast turnaround, and flexibility for handling design changes and for economical small lot manufacturing are some of the benefits associated with laser processing of aerospace parts. For example, in replacing hand trimming, laser cutting has increased throughput for trimming a deep drawn gas turbine engine part from 18 pieces per day to 18 pieces in 30 minutes. For another company, laser cutting saved $75,000 in tooling expense for an application involving drilling of 3000-0.013 inch diameter holes in a 0.015 inch thick aircraft engine blade insert. Laser cutting and welding has also been key to a major aircraft manufacturer's implementation of Just-In-Time manufacturing practices.This paper uses case studies of current users of laser processing systems to report on recent advances in both the understanding of laser materials processing and the control of these processes.

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