The advantages of laser beam welding, such as its high flexibility, its high local energy input, and its fast processing speed, led to a substantial increase of industrial applications using this technology. However, only a portion of the laser energy is absorbed during welding due to reflections. These reflections can damage the system components and lead to a reduced process efficiency. Especially when welding copper materials with infrared laser beam sources, the reflections play a significant role, since the reflection coefficient of copper is very high at infrared wavelengths. Therefore, a formation of a keyhole is necessary for a stable and efficient welding process.
A theoretical model for the calculation of the reflections on an arbitrary position above the process zone, as well as a radiation analyzer based on a modular set-up are presented. This device enables a time- and space-resolved measurement of the reflected radiation. Using the experimental results, characteristic positions on the hemisphere could be identified to calibrate the theoretical model. The calibrated model allows to analyze the reflected radiation during the welding process to determine the energy which is absorbed by the work piece.