In the past few years, metal laser cutting equipment based on fiber lasers developed rapidly, and it only slowed down until 2019. Nowadays, many companies hope that the equipment of 6KW or even more than 10000 watts will once again boom the laser cutter market.
In the past few years, laser welding has not attracted much attention. One of the reasons is that the market scale of laser welding machines has not risen, and it is difficult for some companies engaged in laser welding to expand. However, in recent years, with the rapid increase in demand for laser welding in several major fields such as automobiles, batteries, optical communications, electronic manufacturing, and sheet metal, the market scale of laser welding has quietly increased. It is understood that the market size of laser welding nationwide is about 11 billion RMB by 2020, and its share in laser applications has steadily increased.
The main application of laser welding
Laser used for welding is not later than laser cutting, and Raytu Laser, an earlier laser company in China, is also engaged in laser welding. In the early days, lamp-pumped laser and YAG laser welding were mainly used. They were all very traditional low-power laser welding. They were used in several fields such as molds, advertising characters, glasses, jewelry, etc. The scale is very limited.
In recent years, with the continuous improvement of laser power, more importantly, semiconductor lasers and fiber lasers have gradually developed laser welding application scenarios, breaking the original technical bottleneck of laser welding and opening up new market space.
The optical spot of fiber laser is relatively small, which is not suitable for welding. However, manufacturers use the principle of galvanometer swing beam and technologies such as swing welding head to make fiber laser achieve welding well.
Laser welding has gradually entered domestic high-end industries such as automobiles, rail transit, aerospace, nuclear power, new energy vehicles, and optical communications. For example Chery, and Guangzhou Honda have adopted automated laser welding production lines; CRRC Tangshan Locomotives , CRRC Qingdao Sifang locomotive also uses kilowatt-level welding technology; power battery leading companies such as CATL, AVIC Lithium Battery, BYD, and Guoxuan have used laser welding equipment in large quantities.
Laser welding of power batteries should be the most dazzling welding application demand in recent years, and it has greatly promoted companies such as Raytu Laser, Yifei Laser, and Han's New Energy. Secondly, it should be the welding of automobile bodies and parts. China is the world's largest automobile market. There are many old car companies, new car companies are constantly emerging, with nearly 100 car brands, and the application rate of laser welding in car production is still very low. There is still a lot of room for the future. The third is the laser welding application of consumer electronics, in which the process space related to mobile phone manufacturing and optical communication is relatively large.
It is also worth mentioning that hand-held laser welding has entered a heavy-duty stage. The demand for hand-held welding equipment based on 1000 watts to 2000 watts of fiber lasers has exploded in the past two years. The price has increased from 100,000 in the early days to more than 50,000 today. It can easily replace the traditional arc welding and low-efficiency spot welding process. It is widely used in the welding of hardware factories, metal parts, stainless steel pipes, aluminum alloys, doors and windows, railings, and bathroom components. The shipment volume last year was more than 10,000 units, which is far from reaching the peak, and there is still great potential for development.
The potential of laser welding
Since 2018, the growth rate of the laser welding application market has accelerated, with an average annual rate of over 30%, which has surpassed the growth rate of laser cutting applications. The feedback from some laser companies is the same. For example, under the impact of the epidemic in 2020, Raycus Laser’s sales of lasers for welding applications increased by 152% year-on-year; Reci light focused on handheld welding lasers and occupied the largest share.
The high-power welding field has also begun to gradually use domestic light sources, and the growth prospects are considerable. In industries such as lithium battery manufacturing, automobile manufacturing, rail transit, and ship manufacturing, laser welding, as an important link in the manufacturing process, has also ushered in a good opportunity for development.
According to general welding applications, the current demand for power from 1000 watts to 4000 watts is the largest, and it will dominate in laser welding in the future. Many hand-held laser welding is used for welding metal parts and stainless steel parts with a thickness of less than 1.5mm, and the power of 1000 watts is sufficient. In the welding of aluminum casings for power batteries, motor batteries, aerospace components, automobile bodies, etc., 4000 watts can meet most of the needs. Laser welding will become the laser application field with the fastest growth rate in the future, and the ultimate development potential may be greater than that of laser cutting.