In laser welding applications optical coherence tomography (OCT) is used to measure the capillary depth for process monitoring and process control. A controlled constant weld depth is expected to run applications closer to their process limits and reduce the number of destructive sample inspections. An essential premise is a reliable weld depth measurement independent from influencing factors. This work analyzes the influence of laser power, beam diameter, feed rate, and work piece material on the weld depth measured using the OCT technology. The results obtained by using fixed laser optics are compared to the corresponding results from scanner optics.
High strength metal alloys and ceramics offer a huge potential for increased efficiency (e. g. in engine components for aerospace or components for gas turbines). However, mass application is still hampered by cost- and time-consuming end-machining due to long processing times and high tool wear. Laser-induced heating shortly before machining can reduce the material strength and improve machinability significantly. The Fraunhofer IPT has developed and successfully realized a new approach for laser-assisted milling with spindle and tool integrated, co-rotating optics. The novel optical system inside the tool consists of one deflection prism to position the laser spot in front of the cutting insert and one focusing lens. Using a fiber laser with high beam quality the laser spot diameter can be precisely adjusted to the chip size. A high dynamic adaption of the laser power signal according to the engagement condition of the cutting tool was realized in order not to irradiate already machined work piece material. During the tool engagement the laser power is controlled in proportion to the current material removal rate, which has to be calculated continuously. The needed geometric values are generated by a CAD/CAM program and converted into a laser power signal by a real-time controller. The developed milling tool with integrated optics and the algorithm for laser power control enable a multi-axis laser-assisted machining of complex parts.