Laser welding – joining technology of the future?
A project from the Hohenstein Institute for Textile Innovations
A&R Textil is a driver of innovation in the technical textiles sector. We want to continually develop our technologies and materials, consistently our eye on the future, which is why we work together with the Hohenstein Institutes, among others. One of our joint projects was the implementation of laser welding technology in industrial textile processing, which is what we would like to present to you here.
Advantages of laser welding
With no other welding process is it possible to incorporate heat energy between two textiles more precisely or efficiently. The heat source in laser welding doesn’t touch the textile and in this way, the process protects the material and isn’t tool-specific.
Question: Can the theoretical approaches to laser welding be integrated into industrial textile production?
Basis of the tests
A&R Textil and Hohenstein produced laser-welded seam samples of various textiles (see images/photo credit: @Hohenstein). They were compared with welded seam samples created through conventional joining processes and analysed.
Findings from the analyses
Laser-welded textile seams often still have a seam quality which is too low. Furthermore, only a few textiles can absorb the laser beam, which makes it necessary to use an additional absorber. This absorber application can’t yet be implemented in a way that ensures process reliability. As things stand today, the physical advantages of laser welding cannot yet be realised while keeping the process reliable.
Mechanical engineers and absorber developers are incorporating the findings gained from the project and deriving development concepts from them. According to this, the first prototypes of laser sewing machines will be available in the next few years. Whether the laser technology can be incorporated into textile production will be heavily dependent on the machines’ series production capabilities. Today, however, it is certain that laser welding will only establish itself in peripheral areas as the light absorption presents a big problem. This problem means that many starting textiles cannot be laser welded.