At the recent Symposium on Advanced Laser Applications, a presentation by Walter Bosenberg of Coherent Inc. entitled, "Diode Laser Heat Treating for Aerospace Applications," was a very good state-of-the art look at current applications for laser transformation hardening (commonly called heat treating). Industrial Laser Solutions will publish a version of this presentation in the November/December issue.
As the SALA presentation was being made, it became apparent that many in the audience were not familiar with laser heat treating as a manufacturing operation. First developed in the mid-1970s, this ideal usage for controlled laser energy struggled for decades to find a place in industry. Metallurgists, when exposed to the technology, immediately recognize the value of a means to produce controlled hardness depths in carbon steels without the overheating experienced with some processes such as flame or induction hardening. The high cost and complexity of laser beam delivery caused prospective users to shy away from the process.
Now with the introduction of less costly and more effective industrial lasers, the process is finally attracting the interest of industrial users. Among these are diode lasers, whose operating wavelength obviates the need for an absorbing coating, an additional process step that slowed the acceptance of other lasers
ILS Editor-in-Chief David Belforte asked Dr. Vivian Merchant to write an introduction to the laser heat treating technology that would serve as a primer to those unfamiliar with the process. Now in a featured article on the ILS Webpage, potential users and those charged with selective and controlled surface hardening will find this article helpful as it lays out the basics in a non-technical manner.
David A. Belforte