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Product Code: JLA_9_3_129

G. J. Shannon
W. McNaught
W. F. Deans
J. Watson

A hyperbaric laser welding facility has been constructed and the feasibility of high power CO2 and Nd:YAG laser welding in both high pressure gas and water environments, to simulated water depths of 500 m, has been established. From initial trials on welding through water at atmospheric pressure, it was found that the different absorption characteristics of water to 10.6 μm (CO2 laser) and 1.06 μm (Nd:YAG laser) radiation proved crucial. The Nd:YAG laser was totally unsuitable as the beam was largely diffused in the water, whereas the CO2 beam was readily absorbed and, using high speed video equipment, was found to form a high irradiance channel and a dry region around the weld area. Welding under a high pressure gas environment produced a highly energized plume which prevented keyhole welding at pressures over 1 × 106 Pa. An investigation carried out into the efficacy of a gas jet delivery system to alleviate the extent of the plume showed that argon blown horizontally across the weld was the optimum configuration, extending the welding range up to 5 × 106 Pa. A limited investigation into high pressure underwater welding showed porosity to be a problem although sound welds were produced at pressures up to 2 × 106 Pa.

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