Laser Welding of Alumina Ceramic Substrates with Two Fixed Beams
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Laser welding was investigated as a potential joining technology for alumina ceramic substrates. The objective of this study was to develop a method to preheat the ceramic using a single defocused laser beam prior to welding. Engineering ceramics are employed in a variety of systems and environments due to their unique properties. Joining technologies must be developed to facilitate the manufacture of complex or large ceramic components. Laser welding is advantageous as it forms joints rapidly, and does not introduce intermediate materials to form the bond, which can have deleterious effects. The Laser Machining System (LMS) at Queen’s University was adapted for this study. A defocused far-infrared (FIR) laser beam was positioned to overlay a focused near-infrared (NIR) laser beam; the defocused FIR beam preheated the ceramic substrate and the focused NIR beam formed the weld. A finite element model was developed in COMSOL MultiPhysics to simulate the preheating processes and to develop a preheating protocol. The protocol was implemented using the FIR beam and adjusted to achieve preheating temperatures of 1450, 1525, and 1600degC. Welds were performed on 1 mm thick alumina plates using the preheating protocols and NIR beam powers of 25, 50, and 75 W. Weld speed was held constant throughout the study at 0.5 mm/s. The preheating protocols were successful at achieving near-constant preheating temperatures, with standard deviations below 32 degrees. Partially penetrating welds were formed with the NIR beam at 25 W, and fully penetrating welds at 50 and 75 W. Large pores were present in the 25 W and 50 W welds. Minimal porosity was observed in the welds formed at 75 W. All of the welded plates experienced a transverse fracture that extended perpendicular to weld, and a longitudinal fracture extending parallel to the weld. This study shows that a fixed defocused laser beam can successfully preheat alumina substrates to the high temperatures required for welding; however, non-homogenous cooling results in fracture. Increasing the preheating beam diameter or introducing an auxiliary means to provide a controlled cool-down cycle may mitigate these effects.