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Laser Cladding

Laser Cladding: Innovative Localized Hard-facing/Restoration Technique

Laser cladding is a cutting-edge welding process that has the capability to modify the surface properties of a substrate with exotic and/or harder materials. In this process, the feed-stock in the form of micron-sized alloy powder is melted by a laser beam to deposit the durable overlay with a thickness of 0.020” to 0.250” on the substrate.

IBC Coatings Technologies offers laser cladding as a localized treatment for extending the operational service life of high value/performance components by increasing resistance to wear, corrosion, and erosion in a wide variety of applications and environments.

laser cladding machine

Why Laser Cladding?

Traditional cladding techniques, such as arc-based welding, often require excessive heat input, which may result in negative effects on performance of the whole component, such as distortion and reduced mechanical properties. In contrast, the heat input of the laser beam can be accurately adjusted which is critical to maintain dimensional accuracy for tight component tolerances. It has minimal side effects on the mechanical integrity of the component, either locally treating the damaged area or improving the surface properties for a specific part in the chain of manufacturing.

Laser Cladding Features:

  • Highly concentrated heat input with very narrow heat affected zone
  • High adhesion strength due to metallurgical bond with minimal dilution
  • High deposition rate (2 – 3.5 kg/hr)
  • Capability of cladding a wide variety of materials, even those with poor weldability
  • Cost-effective due to few required pre/post processing treatments
  • Exceptional weld quality in terms of both mechanical and surface properties due to greatly lowered defects such as porosities and cracks
  • High repeatability and precisely controllable
Arc Welding Thermal Spray Hard-Chrome Plating Laser Cladding
Heat Input High Low N/A (chemical process) Low
Dilution Rate 10 – 40% N/A(mechanical bonding) No metallurgical bond <5%
Hardness (HV) Relatively Low <1000 800 – 1000 >1000
Distortion High Low N/A Low
Heat Affected Zone Large and wide Low N/A Low
Quality Less durable Full of pores and less durable Prone to chipping and delamination Highly dense and Long life
Pre/Post Treatments Many Many Many Few
Automation Difficult Difficult Difficult Easy
Coat Thickness >0.020” 0.020” – 0.040” 0.002” – 0.006” >0.020”

Laser Cladding Capabilities

  1. 4 kW IPG fiber laser
  2. Headstock/tailstock positioner with capacity of 4000 lbs coupled with maximum diameter of 12 in and maximum length of 11 ft
  3. Wide selection of cladding materials
  4. Research and development / feasibility studies
  5. Equipped with quality analysis

Laser Cladding Target Materials

Target MaterialTypical Hardness (HV)Thermal Stability (°C)Application
High Strength Steels (M2, H13)550 – 650450 – 500Tool repair
Rockit™900 – 1100Excellent substitution for hard chrome, high abrasion resistance at ambient temperature
SS309, SS316L250 – 300Used as root layer/build up, relatively good general corrosion resistance
SS420, SS431550 – 600500 – 550Reasonable wear resistance
Stellite-6550 – 600500 – 550Excellent galling, wear, erosion, and cavitation protection over a wide temperature range
Stellite-21400 – 450500 – 550Superior thermal and mechanical shock resistance, relatively high resistance to galling and cavitation
Inconel-625250 – 300900 – 1000Applied in extremely high corrosive environments, used as buffer layer
Inconel-718400 – 450600 – 650Age hardenable, high temperature stability and corrosion protection, ideal for hot forging punch
NiCrSiB-65%WC1500 – 2500600 – 650Extremely high abrasion/erosion resistance and excellent for part-to-part sliding wear due to relatively low friction coefficient
Colmonoy 69 (NiCrMoCu)600 – 650500 – 550Excellent resistance to aluminum liquid erosion used in high pressure die cast
Ni80Cr20300 – 3501000 – 1100Hot oxidation resistance
Aluminum-Bronze200 – 300350 – 400Excellent galling resistance for cold forming tolls, good general corrosion resistance

Attackable Failure Modes by Laser Cladding

  • General Wear
  • Abrasive Erosion
  • Hot Gas Oxidation
  • High Temperature Corrosion-Erosion-Wear
  • Galling
  • Cavitation

Target Industries

  • Oil and Gas
  • Marine
  • Pulp/Paper
  • Glass
  • Power Generation
  • Mining/Heavy Equipment
  • Agriculture
  • Food Processing
  • Aerospace
  • Steel Manufacturing

Laser Cladding Common Applications

  • Flanges
  • Seats
  • Wear Sleeves
  • Pumps
  • Glass Molds
  • Seal/Bearing Journals
  • Impellers
  • Rotor Shafts
  • Pump Shafts
  • Compressor Wheels
  • Gearbox Housing
  • Propeller Shafts
  • Exhaust Valves
  • Rolls
  • Crank Shafts
  • Engine Components
  • Mandrels

Proven Solution for Hot Mill Rolls used in Steel Making Industry

Rolling steel is a process that stretches the performance limits of the components used in the rolling equipment. Abrasion wear, thermal shock, and galling can cause failures of rollers and other components creating downtime and quality issues. Being exposed to the wide range of temperature dictates the need for a high hardness, low friction solution.

IBC Coatings Technologies offers field proven solution for extending the service life of the hot mill rolls. Customer using our laser cladded carbide-based overlays have reported over 6x service life extension compared to thermal spray or arc welding resulting in lower operating cost and reduced down time.

Results of ball-on-flat wear test per ASTM G133 showed exceptional wear resistance of WC-based composite out of laser cladding against various surface modifications applied on steels. For all surface modification conditions, laser cladded WC-based overlay wear rate is substantially lower than the one that was deposited by thermal spray.

average track wear rates thermal spray and laser cladding overlays against surface conditions
Average Track Wear Rates of Thermal Spray and Laser Cladding Overlays Against Various Surface Conditions

Laser Cladding Case Studies

Bottom Punch/Magnet Dies

When magnets are produced for motors, the magnet material is combined in a slurry and set into a die. Then, punches force the slurry into the magnet die and force all the water/contaminants out of the slurry. These punches must have non-magnetic tips, so they don’t interfere with the magnet’s polarity. In addition, the dies are subject to high metal to metal wear.

Traditionally, Stellite 6 was applied to the top surface via GTAW. However, the dilution line between the base material (W2 steel) and the substrate (Stellite 6) was choppy, and the manual process was time consuming (roughly 1 hour per punch).

IBC proposed an automated solution to improve productivity. The solution used a coaxial powder feed laser head, and custom programming was implemented to map the clad/layer paths.

IBC was able to produce a buildup of Stellite 6 that exhibited a very clean dilution line between the parent and clad material, and produced a cladding in 15-20 minutes as opposed to 1 hour. Hence, quality and productivity were improved drastically with this automated solution.

multi layered laser cladding punches magnet dies
Multi-layered laser cladding of Punches Magnet Dies

Wind Turbine Centrifuge Hubs/Shafts

Wind turbine hubs and shafts are subjected to wear due to load variation resulting from changes in wind speed/intensity. This wear can cause the gearboxes to fail prematurely, leading to high replacement costs.

IBC Coatings Technologies applied laser cladding to worn hubs, journals, and shafts, which were then machined to original design specifications. Base materials included a variety of stainless steels (410 SS, 420 SS, 440 SS). The prime cladding material was 420 stainless steel. Careful control of the preheat and process parameters ensured the clad material was free of defects and had similar/improved properties compared to the base material.

centrifuge refurbishment cladded
Centrifuge Refurbishment (As Cladded)

Steel Mill Rods

Steel mill rods are components which are subjected to frequent wear. Usually the wear is minor, but sufficient to make the rod no longer usable. IBC Coatings Technologies applied laser cladding to worn rods. Base material was a high strength steel (4140), and 431SS martensitic stainless steel was picked as the overlay in order to improve the wear resistance of the substrate.

laser cladding steel mill rods
Laser cladding of Steel Mill Rods

Based on quality analysis after laser cladding, it was revealed that the hardness of the overlay experienced a smooth transition toward the substrate, confirming that laser cladding leads to metallurgical bonding. Additionally, there was no sign of a heat affected zone immediately after the overlay/substrate boundary.

metallurgical analysis hardness variation cross section clad steel mill rods
Metallurgical analysis, Hardness variation throughout the overlay and substrate as well as cross section of the clad on Steel Mill Rods.