Australian laser technology shipped to China
Wednesday, 10 May, 2017
Surface engineering company LaserBond has shipped its first customised laser cladding system to China in a deal worth $1.4 million. The 1.6 x 5.5 m laser is a ‘junior version’ of LaserBond’s 16 kW laser cell, developed by the company’s R&D department in Adelaide.
LaserBond has been using thermal coating techniques to produce hard-wearing components and products for the mining, power generation, manufacturing and agriculture industries since 1992. Products are typically made from steel and then applied with materials such as nickel alloys, tungsten, titanium carbides and ceramics.
LaserBond predominantly manufactures for the mining industry and exports about 80% of its products to countries including Chile, Mongolia and South Africa. The company’s executive director, Wayne Hooper, said cladding large mining industry components is different to other laser applications.
“Our niche is focused at the heavy end — maintaining close operational control of the laser head and work piece, over a long reach with heavy loads and sustained high temperatures called for a rethink in design of the multiaxis work piece manipulator and its associated control system,” he said.
“Many surface-engineered products for our resources sector customers require extended running times at high power levels. Some of these projects run 16 hours at full power.”
To accommodate these challenges, LaserBond engineers have developed innovations including a powder injection nozzle that is able to better manage intense heat accumulating in the laser head in long runs. The heavy-duty work piece manipulator provides more stable support of heavy, hot, large and complex components, and the design of the control software offers more accuracy and provides an easier, more intuitive user interface.
LaserBond’s technology division was established in response to a number of international enquiries to license its technology, with the call from China coming around two years ago. As explained by LaserBond Chairman Allan Morton, the junior version of the laser system has about one-fourth of the power of the Adelaide model.
“It will be used to make better performing products that last much longer,” he said.
The sale to China will attract ongoing royalties and licence fees and is the company’s first step in expanding its business. LaserBond is also establishing a new centre of excellence in Adelaide, which it aims to open early next year.
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