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Laser Hardening – The Ultimate FAQ Guide

The process of laser hardening is alien to many, and if you consider yourself part of this demographic, too, don’t fret.

In this guide, not only will we be educating you as to what laser hardening is. We’ll also help and assist you in terms of understanding where you can get the best laser hardening service in the market today!

To help you with it, we listed some of the most asked questions about laser hardening!

What is Laser Hardening?

Laser hardening, also known as laser heat treatment, is the heat treatment process of strengthening and hardening the surface of a workpiece using a laser beam.

What is Laser Hardening_
An image of how a laser hardening machine working on a metal part

The process is simple and fairly easy to understand. The high-powered laser beam moves across the surface, heating it up through conduction.

Then, it’s cooled down using the surrounding air in the atmosphere, resulting in hardened and strengthened surfaces.

How Does the Process of Laser Hardening Work?

It starts by activating the laser beam or the machine that’s supposed to be used.

How Does the Process of Laser Hardening Work_
A metal part that has undergone the laser hardening process

Then, you point it to the surface of the workpiece or the metal part and as the laser moves across it, it heats it up to a certain temperature, then allowing it to cool or to self-quench.

This results to the forming or the formation of a martensitic structure, hardening the metal part inevitably.

Does Laser Hardening Cause Warping?

There have been minimal cases of warping in projects finished through laser hardening because of the fact that the absorbed laser energy is narrow.

Does Laser Hardening Cause Warping_
An example of a warped piece of metal part or component

The heat affected zone is just thin and narrow, minimizing – or even eliminating the chances of the piece being warped.

Laser Hardening vs. Induction Hardening 

Induction hardening is the procedure that’s next to common after the traditional heat or flame hardening treatment.

Laser Hardening vs. Induction Hardening
The perfect example of how induction hardening happens

This particular procedure uses a copper coil as its initial base and source of heat. The workpieces, parts, or components that are to be heated would be placed inside a copper coil.

Then, alternating currents will be applied to the coil and they’ll be heated just above the temperature needed to transform them. After heating, it’s followed up by immediate and sudden quenching or cooling to harden and strengthen it fully.

Laser hardening, on the other hand, is a procedure that’s something we all already know. It uses a laser beam to heat the surface of the workpiece, and then allows it to cool down on its own.

Induction Hardening Benefits

  • Components and parts could still be tempered after induction hardening
  • No masking is required because it’s a selective hardening process – only to specific areas of the workpiece
  • You can save a lot of energy because it uses induction
  • The process is safe and secure
  • Heating is precise and accurate

These are the benefits and advantages of using induction hardening. What about disadvantages?

Induction Hardening Drawbacks

Some of the cons and drawbacks of using induction hardening include:

  • Larger distortion levels
  • Cracking and being damaged is more likely possible
  • Few selection of materials compatible with induction hardening

This brings us to our next point, which is…

The Advantages of Laser Hardening

The Advantages of Laser Hardening
Image of how laser hardening offers one of its primary advantages – precision and accuracy

Similar to all the other types of case hardening methods, laser hardening also holds too few benefits and advantages, some of which include:

Higher Compatibility With Smaller Components

One of the best advantages laser hardening can give would be the fact that you’ll be able to use it effectively even on smaller parts and components.

This is because the diode lasers are sharp, thin, and narrow, making it easy for the workers or operators to harden smaller and thinner workpieces.

Thanks to the thin and narrow heat input, there wouldn’t be any problems in terms of working on smaller and narrower workpieces.

Greater Accuracy and Precision

The accuracy and precision that we’re talking about isn’t just necessarily for the heat affected zone. This particular accuracy and precision also involves the accuracy of the temperature or how hard you want your case or your worpiece to be.

Due to the fact that lasers are easy-to-control (the movement of the beam, the temperature or the hotness it can reach, as well as the thinness or the thickness of the beam), you can have better and more accurate results.

Although you need to mask certain items and workpieces, they’re highly accurate and you’ll never fail using them.

Small Distortion Risk

The usual and the traditional case hardening processes, the great combination of heat and temperature offers high levels of distortion.

With laser hardening, you’ll have full control of the temperature, heat, as well as the movement of the laser beam.

This results to a small risk of distortion on the part or the workpiece, as well as elimination of cracking chances and defects.

Other advantages that you’ll encounter when undergoing the laser hardening process include lower cost for labor, no machine or media required for cooling or quenching, and less stress hardness.

Disadvantages of Laser Hardening

Disadvantages of Laser Hardening
Laser hardening uses a lot of energy, which causes it to be inefficient

While you might think of laser hardening as the ultimate process you can use for everything, it actually has a couple of flaws, drawbacks, and dangers, too.

Just like any other process, there are a couple of things that are worth noting when it comes to using the laser hardening process.

Some of the most common include:

Higher Initial Cost

The first disadvantage of drawback is purchasing the machine. It’s expensive, it’s not a joke. If you are to perform laser hardening on just a few workpieces, have it hardened by a laser hardening company instead of purchasing the equipment for it.

They Use 10% of Input Energy

Another con is that it uses 10% of the energy that’s input. Therefore, it can already be considered as inefficient in terms of the energy used.

High Alloy Steels Are Difficult to Work On

Since high alloy steels usually have temperature-related resistance levels, simple laser beams might find it hard to penetrate them.

This could be an obstacle if you’re going to harden steels that contain high levels of alloying elements.

While these disadvantages seem pretty easy to overcome, it’s still better to consider them to avoid problems with the case hardening process you’ll perform.

What Are the Applications of Laser Hardening?

Applications of Laser Hardening
An image of laser hardening working on a heavy industry sector part or component

Due to their flexibility and versatility, laser hardening is seen to be one of the best and the easiest ways to harden the surface of metal parts, components, and workpieces.

There are numerous business sectors and industries that utilize the laser hardening process, some of which include, but are not limited to:

  • Aerospace Industry
  • Nuclear Industry
  • Pulp and Paper Industry
  • Automotive Industry
  • Energy Industry
  • Transportation Industry
  • Heavy Equipment Industry
  • Chemical Industry
  • Construction and Structural Industry
  • And Many More!

All of these business sectors and industries utilize heavy volumes of steels and metals. Therefore, they’ll find the laser hardening process to be very useful and effective for their parts and components.

What is Laser Quenching?

Laser quenching is the procedure of using laser to heat the surface usually above the transformation or the transition point.

While quenching, in general, requires the use of water – laser hardened materials don’t need it.

What is Laser Quenching_
Image of how the laser quenching process is done

Then, having it cool down rapidly so that the mechanical and the physical properties of it are changed and modified, oftentimes, to be stronger, more durable, and to be harder.

What is Electron Beam Hardening?

Electron beam hardening is a case hardening process that you can use to harden even the thinnest surfaces of objects and materials to a specific temperature, then cooling it rapidly.

Yes, the electron beam hardening process is similar to that of the laser beam hardening process; it’s just a different term used.

Laser Hardening Machine Price

The rates and prices of laser hardening machines vary from one manufacturer to another.

Some of the reasons why they’re different would be because of:

Different Materials and Tools Used

Some manufacturers use different materials and tools to produce the equipment or the machine.

As a matter of fact, some even order it from various places just to assemble the laser hardening machine needed.

If manufacturer 1 used stainless steel and manufacturer 2 used just regular tool steel for it with addition of PVC, manufacturer 2 could offer it lower because they had less expenses in creating and manufacturing it.

Processes Used

Another reason is due to the fact that not all processes of creating or finishing the laser hardening process are similar.

There are manufacturers that perform various methodologies, while there are those that just proceed performing the usual methods.

Specification Differences

If a laser hardening machine has higher and better specifications, then you need to expect that it’s going to be more expensive and costly than those that are basic.

For instance, if the laser wavelength of a machine A is greater than machine B, machine A would be more expensive.

Features and Functionalities

Of course, not all laser hardening equipment have the same features and functionalities.

These are actually the main and the primary selling points that manufacturers and suppliers hold on to. They try to add features and functionalities that would be better and more effective than other machines.

These are some of the reasons why not all laser hardening machines are offered at the same rates and prices.

So, the best way to find out how much the laser hardening machine you’re eyeing on is, ask and contact the manufacturer to give you the rates and prices.

Do You Still Need Quenching For Workpieces That Are Laser Hardened?

Yes, quenching would still be required even for metal parts and workpieces that have undergone laser hardening.

However, it’s not the liquid quenching that you know and imagine. Regular air or environment quenching is already sufficient in cooling the material down.

That means, you don’t need to do anything to quench it; you’ll just allow the air to cool it down in a slow and a paced manner.

This is the reason why you can expect little-to-no distortion on the metal part or workpiece.

Where Can You Find the Best Laser Hardening Services?

For many years, businesses like you from all across the globe run to us here at Waldun for all laser hardening needs they have.

From regular martensitic hardening, shock hardening, to cladding and dispersion hardening, you can bank and count on us.

We’ve streamlined all of our services, making it the best, the most efficient, and the most effective in the industry.

Does Waldun Offer Laser Hardeninc Machines, Too?

Being the best laser hardening experts in China, we also came up with highly effective and cutting-edge laser hardening machines and equipment.

You can purchase different kinds of laser hardening equipment from us, too! At Waldun, the success of your business will be inevitable, and we’ve proven our expertise in both time and results!

  • Waldun offers high levels of customer service, including pre-sales and after-sales services
  • We are equipped with an experienced Research & Development (R&D) team
  • You will be able to get all of your orders in less than a month
  • We can get you a free quotation of all the services you need!

Other than our laser hardening machines and services, you can also bank on us if you are in dire need of other types of machines such as laser cladding machines, plasma cutting machines, hardfacing machines, etc.

As well as other services such as hardfacing, weld overlay cladding, plasma cutting, and many more!

Get ahold of us and we will give you the best experience you never experienced before. Give us a call or send us an email now and expect a response with a free quotation within a few hours!