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Multiphysics Simulation: An IEEE Spectrum Insert
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Magnets Improve Quality of High-Power Laser Beam Welding

M. Bachmann, V. Avilov, A. Gumenyuk, and M. Rethmeier
BAM Federal Institute For Materials Research and Testing

High-power laser beam welding uses a localized heat source to achieve narrow deep welds and high welding rates. Engineers run into some difficulties because the use of a localized heat source often results in the distortion of metal components; spattering and the ejection of droplets from the weld pool results in underfills, undercuts, craters, blowholes, or blowouts.

A stationary magnetic field is applied to the laser welding process to improve its quality and counteract effects such as spattering. BAM Federal Institute For Materials Research and Testing in Germany are working to improve the quality of high-power laser beam welding using COMSOL Multiphysics. To model and simulate the laser beam welding, heat transfer, fluid dynamics, and electromagnetics were coupled and solved. This allowed BAM to accurately model the process by including Marangoni effects, gravity, latent heats of fusion, and Lorentz forces.

A photo of actual welds with COMSOL results superimposed on them. The left image shows a weld without any applied magnetic field, while the right image shows the case with an applied magnetic field.