Optical detection of joint position in zero gap laser beam welding

Abstract: This thesis presents an experimental study on how to track zero gaps between metal sheets to be joined by laser beam butt welding. Automated laser beam welding is gaining interest due to its ability to produce narrow and deep welds giving limited heat input and therefore less distortions compared to other processes, such as arc-welding. The automated laser beam welding process is however sensitive to how the high power laser is positioned with regards to the joint position. Deviations from the joint position may occur due to inaccuracies of the welding robot and fixturing, changes in joint geometry, process induced distortions, etc. Welding with an offset from the joint position can result inlack of sidewall fusion, a serious defect that is hard to detect. This work develops and evaluates three monitoring systems to be used during welding in order to be able to later control the laser beam spot position. (i) A monitoring systemis developed for three different photo diodes, one for the visual spectrum of the process emissions, one for the infrared spectrum, and one for the reflected highpower laser light. The correlation between the signals from the photodiodes and the welding position relative to the joint is analysed using a change detection algorithm. In this way an indication of a path deviation is given. (ii) A visual camera with matching illumination and optical filters is integrated into the laser beam welding tool in order to obtain images of the area in front of the melt pool. This gives a relatively clear view of the joint position even during intense spectral disturbances emitted from the process, and by applying animage processing algorithm and a model based filtering method the joint positionis estimated with an accuracy of 0.1 mm. (iii) By monitoring the spectral emissions from the laser induced plasma plume using a high speed and high resolution spectrometer, the plasma electron temperature can be estimated from the intensities of two selected spectral lines and this is correlated to the welding position and can be used for finding the joint position.