The Best of Both Worlds
According to John Rugh, LBW is commonly used for welding steel sheet metal components and machined components under 1/3 to 1⁄2 inches thick. Laser welding is also useful for joining parts that are not suitable for processing inside a vacuum chamber.
“Some parts and their associated welding fixtures may be too large to fit into the EB welding chambers available,” said Rugh. “Aside from size, if the components being welded contain liquids that would interfere with vacuum pumping, laser welding would be a good choice.” It takes minutes to evacuate an EB welding chamber and that time may not be worth it for a less sensitive weld.
If components are of high value, made of a material that would benefit from the vacuum environment such as titanium and nickel alloys, the welds are deeper than 1/3 to 1/2 inch or if the laser beam has difficulty coupling with the material being welded, such as aluminum alloys, EB welding is often the process of choice over laser welding.
While each technology has its benefits, in practical terms, many component designs incorporate both EB and laser welds. In these cases performing both types of welding at the same facility definitely streamlines the manufacturing process.