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Product Code: JLA_16_1_9

J. Greses
Engineering Department, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 1RX United Kingdom

P. A. Hilton
TWI, Granta Park, Abington, Cambridge, CB1 6AL United Kingdom

C. Y. Barlow
Engineering Department, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 1RX United Kingdom

W. M. Steen
Laser Group, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3GH United Kingdom

During high-power continuous wave (cw) Nd:yttritium–aluminum–garnet (YAG) laser welding a vapor plume is formed containing vaporized material ejected from the keyhole. The gas used as a plume control mechanism affects the plume shape but not its temperature, which has been found to be less than 3000 K, independent of the atmosphere and plume control gases. In this study high-power (up to 8 kW) cw Nd:YAG laser welding has been performed under He, Ar, and N2 gas atmospheres, extending the power range previously studied. The plume was found to contain very small evaporated particles of diameter less than 50 nm. Rayleigh and Mie scattering theories were used to calculate the attenuation coefficient of the incident laser power by these small particles. In addition the attenuation of a 9 W Nd:YAG probe laser beam, horizontally incident across the plume generated by the high-power Nd:YAG laser, was measured at various positions with respect to the beam-material interaction point. Up to 40% attenuation of the probe laser power was measured at positions corresponding to zones of high concentration of vapor plume, shown by high-speed video measurements. These zones interact with the high-power Nd:YAG laser beam path and, can result in significant laser power attenuation. © 2004 Laser Institute of America.

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