Monitoring and control of laser beam butt joint welding

Abstract: Laser beam welding is one important technology in automated production. It has several advantages, such as the ability to produce deep and narrow welds giving limited heat induced deformations. The laser beam welding process is however sensitive to how the high power laser is positioned with regards to the joint position. Therefore, to achieve a seam without defects, the joint position needs to be measured and controlled. The laser beam welding process is also sensitive to variations in joint gap width. Costly joint preparations are required to achieve the tight fit up tolerances needed to produce high quality welds. However, the demand on joint preparation can be somewhat relaxed by allowing the joint gap width to vary and controlling the process. One way of doing this is to control the filler wire feed rate based on joint gap width measurements.This thesis presents experimental studies on how to track closed-square-butt joints and also how to handle varying square-butt joints in laser beam welding.Different optical sensor systems are evaluated for their performance to estimate the joint position and the joint gap width. The possibility of detecting beam offsets is studied by using sensors systems based on a photo diode and on a spectrometer. Estimations of the joint position, to be used for closed loop position control, is studied by using a camera and external LED illumination. Variations in joint gap width is evaluated using a spectrometer, a camera and a laser profile sensor. Experimental results show that both the photodiode system and the spectometer system is able to detect beam offsets and that the beam position can be estimated with sufficient accuracy when welding closed-square-butt joints. It is also shown that the joint gap width can be estimated by the selected sensor systems and that the estimates can be used for controlling the wire feed rate in order to obtain a constant weld geometry and avoid defects related to the gap width.