“Optical design and development of a fiber coupled high power diode laser system for laser transmission welding of plastics”
Laser transmission welding (LTW) of thermoplastics is a direct bonding technique already used in different industrial applications sectors such as automobiles, microfluidics, electronics, and biomedicine.
LTW evolves localized heating at the interface of two pieces of plastic to be joined. One of the plastic pieces needs to be optically transparent to the laser radiation whereas the other part has to be absorbent, being that the radiation produced by high power diode lasers is a good alternative for this process. As consequence, a tailored laser system has been designed and developed to obtain high quality weld seams with weld widths between 0.7 and 1.4 mm. The developed laser system consists of two diode laser bars (50 W per bar) coupled into an optical fiber using a nonimaging solution: equalization of the beam parameter product (BPP) in the slow and fast axes by a pair of step-mirrors. The power scaling was carried out by means of a multiplexing polarization technique. The analysis of energy balance and beam quality was performed considering ray tracing simulation (ZEMAX®) and experimental validation. The welding experiments were conducted on acrylonitrile/butadiene/styrene (ABS), a thermoplastic frequently used in automotive, electronics and aircraft applications, doped with two different concentrations of carbon nanotubes (0.01% and 0.05% CNTs). Quality of the weld seams on ABS was analyzed in terms of the process parameters (welding speed, laser power and clamping pressure) by visual and optical microscope inspections. Mechanical properties of weld seams were analyzed by mechanical shear tests. High quality weld seams were produced in ABS, revealing the potential of the laser developed in this work for a wide range of plastic welding applications.