Zeroing In on High-Purity Gases for Laser Welding

 
Lasers were first postulated by none other than Albert Einstein in the early days of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the 1980s, though, that lasers were used to solder lead in electronic component circuit boards. And it wasn’t until 2002 that CO2 lasers were used to weld polymers. Today, PurityPlus® and our more than 150 partners at 600 locations nationwide are among the most trusted suppliers of the high-purity specialty gases so essential to the gas laser welding process. Our primary customers are heavily automated high-volume manufacturers – so, as you might expect, many are involved in the automotive industry.

A few gas laser basics:

  • Resonator gases are typically a mixture of helium (He), carbon dioxide (CO2), and nitrogen (N2). The active gas that actually generates the laser light itself – infrared radiation – is CO2.
  • Shielding gases protect the weld area from oxygen and water vapor, which helps boost the speed and quality of the welding process. Argon is the most common shielding gas. It’s often mixed with helium, oxygen, or carbon dioxide, which significantly improves its plasma suppression properties.
  • As a resonator gas, ultra-high-purity (99.999%) PurityPlus® helium offers exceptionally high thermal conductivity, the better to conduct heat away from the electric discharge. This makes it ideal for very high-powered laser welding.
  • PurityPlus® carbon dioxide, while often used by itself to run CO2 lasers, is better mixed with helium and nitrogen so as to achieve the very high laser powers needed for laser cutting and welding.
  • PurityPlus® nitrogen, especially as an intermediary with CO2, is also advantageous to achieving very high laser powers.
  • PurityPlus® argon, an inert gas and thus excellent as a shielding gas in laser welding, offers full protection against ambient air. Since it typically supports plasma generation, it should not be used for laser powers above 3 kW.

Whatever your particular laser welding application, you can be sure PurityPlus® has the specialty gases – and the certified high- or ultra-high purity – to fulfill it. Contact your nearest PurityPlus® Partner today.