Aerospace is one of the most rapidly growing industries, where new developments in electronics and materials engineering are eagerly applied. Lasers in the aerospace industry are not inseparable due to the exacting requirements for reliability and accuracy of manufactured components. It is necessary here to use modern manufacturing techniques that allow the highest quality components. Laser technology fits perfectly into these requirements, providing ease of automation and robotization of production, excellent properties of welded joints, unrivaled cutting and drilling, the ability to regenerate and repair surfaces, as well as fast and model marking.
By reducing the weight of an aircraft, fuel consumption decreases, which directly translates into savings for the course. Continuous design improvements and intensive research in materials engineering have contributed to the fact that metal components are increasingly being replaced by composites with the same mechanical performance but reduced density. What’s more, the component’s strength may not change as a result. Mainly due to optimization of its shape: rounding, cutouts or thickness reduction. The lasers used in the aerospace industry make the cutting of components faster and more accurate compared to traditional abrasive jet or plasma processing. The quality of edges after laser cutting is so high that parts are made ready. In turn, the high speed of positioning makes it possible to punch multiple contours at once.
Today’s jet engines are increasingly pushing the limits of aircraft performance and capability. High temperatures and harsh operating environments, propulsion strain and even corrosion cause turbine blades to degrade leading to gradual abrasive wear and cracking. Due to the high production costs, remanufacturing and repair turns out to be a cheaper solution. Especially with the use of laser surfacing. It is with this method that it is possible to restore the original shape, fill in material deficiencies and restore the former mechanical properties of the surface. As a result, the service life of the component is extended. The applied layers are characterized by strength identical to that of the base material.
Among other things, high-strength steels are used to build the fuselage and wing skeleton of aircraft. The use of laser technology means that the joining of successive fragments of the frame can be carried out at high speeds. The finished welds are characterized by high durability and the absence of defects in the form of cracks or blisters. Compared to conventional electric arc welding, thermal deformation is minimal. On the other hand, the strength of the joint is much higher. Moreover, the use of scanning heads virtually eliminates downtime associated with positioning the laser focus.
One way to reduce the amount of fuel consumed in jet aircraft is to ensure laminar airflow at the boundaries of the wing and stabilizer structures. Which is equivalent to reducing drag itself. This task can be accomplished by drilling holes at the edges of the wings and ballast. However, the use of traditional drilling techniques in this process increases the time and reduces the economy of processing. In contrast, the laser technique makes it possible to quickly drill holes as small as less than 100 micrometers in diameter while maintaining high precision, accuracy and repeatability of machining. Reduced heat load ensures that the original shape of the workpiece is maintained after drilling, and the scanning head reduces laser positioning time to a minimum, making it possible to drill more holes in the same amount of time.
The high sophistication of the design and the stringent safety requirements of the aircraft make it necessary to easily identify the components used in production. Automated assembly lines are most often equipped with cameras to read the codes and marks placed on the components. On the other hand, the markings must be made permanent, as this streamlines potential repairs. Laser technology makes making engravings on metal parts even simpler and faster, with each part receiving its own unique code automatically linked to a database. Thanks to the ease of automation of laser processes, it is possible to make markings directly after module assembly.