You may have heard all the negative information about cladding in the press recently, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. Find out how laser cladding technology is improving our world, here…
Talks of the cladding scandal have hit the news massively over recent years. Ever since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, it’s certainly had a bad name in the press.
That said, there is plenty of good to say about cladding itself. In fact, scientists have worked hard to come up with laser cladding technology, which is taking various industries forward by leaps and bounds!
In this article, we’ll be exploring exactly what this technology consists of, and its advantages and disadvantages. We’ll then explore its applications in not just the construction and building industry, but a variety of others too. Take a look…
What is Laser Cladding Technology and How Does it Work?
Laser cladding, or laser metal deposition, is a technique used to add one material on top of another. As a laser beam scans the target surface, it feeds a stream of melted metallic powder or wire, depositing a coating onto said material. This then creates a mechanical bond between the target surface and metal deposit.
The technology can be used in a variety of industries, allowing a layer of metal to be deposited evenly and accurately wherever it needs to go. Due to the short exposure time to heat, the metal solidifies and cools very quickly. With this minimal heat input, it provides the least amount of damage to the target surface along the way.
Ultimately, the technology allows for the simple and accurate improvement of many surfaces in various industries. This can help to repair damaged parts, and even create better wear resistance than ever before.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Laser Cladding Technology
In comparison to the conventional coating process of cladding, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages of using laser technology. Here are just a few of each to help give you a balanced view of it:
Advantages of Laser Cladding Technology
- Can be performed with a variety of materials, including aluminium, copper alloys, titanium alloys and stainless steels, making it a flexible approach.
- Mixtures of materials in the melting process are possible, meaning the process can be tailored to the purpose required.
- Provides a high surface quality coating that is accurate and even.
- Requires a minimal heat input, so is unlikely to damage the target surface.
- This means it creates little distortion in the material, which reduces the need for corrective machining.
- Provides great wear resistance.
- Reduced production times.
- Can be used to repair worn parts, rather than just for brand new cladding.
- Easy automation so can be integrated simply into various production environments.
- More precise in terms of creation and placement in its applications.
- Produces functionally graded parts.
- Has good mechanical properties.
- Is one of the most precise welding processes available.
- Is less dangerous to human health than the process of hard chromium plating.
- Is more hard-wearing than anything that can be achieved with thermal spray.
Disadvantages of Laser Cladding Technology
- Expensive to set up.
- Some cracking may occur, but this can often be eliminated through the use of thermal control measures.
- Not very portable due to the use of large equipment for the job, although there are some portable on-site solutions.
Applications of Laser Cladding Technology
There are a great many applications of laser cladding technology. Although you might hear the word “cladding” and think of buildings, you’d be surprised to hear that it is more often utilised in the following tools and industries:
- Aerospace engineering: laser cladding technology can be used on rockets and satellites as a means for initial production as well as repairs, due to its uses with a variety of durable materials.
- Agricultural machinery: can be used for the layers on sawblades and disc harrows in combine harvesters, for example, that protect them from wear and tear.
- Cutting and drilling tools: for other cutting tools outside of agriculture, they provide a strong and durable surface to avoid distortion and provide superior cutting.
- Heat exchangers: corrosive liquids and gases that pass through heat exchangers can cause damage, which can be avoided through laser cladding technology.
- Hydraulic Cylinders for mining: these require a coating to avoid corrosion from the local atmosphere. Laser cladding allows for chrome plating to be added to these cylinders to avoid this occurring.
If you want to learn more, the Laser Cladding Technology company has listed some more uses and materials that can be involved in the world of laser cladding.
How is Laser Cladding Technology Utilised in Buildings?
This may seem incredibly high-tech, and there’s no denying that it is. That said, this type of cladding technology can actually be used for a variety of reasons in the building and construction industry.
For example, as this LinkedIn article demonstrates, it can be used for welding various metals together for railings. This could be perfect for gates, stairwells, and balconies.
What’s more, laser cladding technology might be used as part of the building construction process. As we’ve seen, various tools like drills and blades might require a durable laser cladding surface to withstand the wear and tear of the construction world. Laser cladding is ideal for this.
Surprised by This Use of Cladding Technology?
As you can see, laser cladding technology is an extremely useful and exciting aspect of the tech sector. There are plenty of applications for it, not just in the building and construction industries, like we might expect. In fact, LCT might even be used in space to repair damaged parts!
Do you have a career in this interesting field of science technology? Perhaps you can fill us in on anything we missed? Be sure to leave your comments down below.