A new way to weld

07 March 2019

A breakthrough for the manufacturing industry has been discovered with the use of the Heriot-Watt laser system. The ultra-fast laser system can successfully weld together various optical materials such as quartz, borosilicate glass, and sapphire to metals like aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel.

This new system, which provides very short, picosecond pulses of infrared light in tracks along the materials in order to fuse them together, can transform the manufacturing sector, and have direct applications in the aerospace, defence, optical technology, and healthcare fields.

The process of welding together dissimilar materials such as glass and metal has never been easy due to their different thermal properties such as high temperatures, and highly different thermal expansions that are involved, which can cause the glass to shatter. 

Currently, equipment and products that involve glass and metal are usually held together by adhesives, which can be messy to apply, and parts can creep or move. This new process relies on the short pulses from the laser, which only last a few picoseconds.

The welds have been texted from -50°C to 90°C, and they have remained intact, showing the welds are robust enough to cope with extreme conditions.

Image courtesy of Phys Org