SMART Laser technology for Welding and Cutting

Laser processing is currently highly dependent on user knowledge and experience to choose correct or optimum parameters to obtain a reliable high quality process. Alternatively for every new application or different laser system expensive process development is required. This is the so-called ‘black art’ of laser processing.  Furthermore continuous human monitoring is often required to ensure smooth defect free production. The combination of these two factors is greatly limiting the potential exploitation of laser based production process in industry. To tackle this we are proposing two approaches:
  • The development of an Expert Laser System (ELS). This system aims to greatly simplify the selection of laser welding parameters. The user only needs to set the requirements for the laser process (i.e. productivity, fit-up tolerance, penetration depth etc.) The ELS determines the optimum laser material interaction parameters (LMIP) from these requirements. Using on-board knowledge and current status of the specific optical system the ELS then translates the LMIP into system parameters (power, travel speed etc.).  The user requirements can be easily transferred from one laser system to any other without any further process development. Furthermore for new applications the user just inputs the new requirements and again no process development is required. This approach is proven for mild steel and titanium for beam diameters of 400 µm and above. To enable widespread adoption we propose to extend and prove the concept to smaller beam diameters (typical of today’s fibre lasers) and a wider range of materials.  The ELS will then be integrated into the control system of a commercial laser system and tested.
  • Back reflected light (BRL) is ideal for process monitoring and control of laser processes being entirely non-intrusive.  It is proposed to investigate the use of analysed BRL as a laser process monitoring tool for cutting


The eventual aim is to integrate the ELS with the BRL laser process monitoring/control system.  When a variation of the welding process is detected, the ELS will automatically correct the parameters accordingly.

Contact Details: 

Please contact Professor Stewart Williams for more information,