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Product Code: JLA_8_3_143

Swati Ghosh
B. P. Badgujar
G. L. Goswami
Atomic Fuels Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, Bombay ‐ 400 085, India

The highly reactive and pyrophoric nature of zirconium alloys limits the use of conventional thermal sources (e.g., plasma arc cutting, oxygen flame cutting, etc.) for the cutting and drilling of these alloys. In this context, a highly coherent laser beam provides a good alternative for the cutting and drilling. In the present paper, laser beam cutting of zircaloy‐2 sheets of 1.1 mm and 0.74 mm thickness is performed using a 300 W average power pulsed Nd:YAG laser. Pulse energy, pulse repetition rate, nozzle gap, gas pressure and cutting speed were varied to give different laser cutting conditions. Metallographic study of the cut surfaces showed the presence of transformed beta phase in the heat affected zone (HAZ) near the cut surface. The microhardness value across the cut surface was also measured. It showed a gradual increase in microhardness from the base metal (160 VHN) towards the HAZ having a maximum value of 365 VHN. The results of parametric studies of the cutting indicated that, with proper selection of process parameters, very narrow cuts can be easily made in zircaloy‐2 using a pulsed Nd:YAG laser with a saving in material and at a much faster rate than alternative processes such as plasma arc cutting and oxygen flame cutting.

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