Laser Cladding Advantages

Laser Cladding Advantages

Laser cladding is a unique process with fundamental differences in its application compared to other cladding technologies such as thermal spray, plasma coating or arc welding.  The use of a laser – a highly focused heat source – has a dramatic effect on the finished product.  Because of its low heat input, high solidification rates and precise process control, laser cladding offers many advantages.

Full Metallurgical Bond

No Flaking, Chipping, Cracking or Peeling: A laser clad has a full metallurgical bond to the base material, which means it will not peel or flake off as plasma or thermal spray coatings do.

Little or No Voids or Porosity:  Laser cladding applies a 100% fully dense coating unlike plasma or thermal spray.

Low Heat Input Process

Greatly Reduced Thermal Distortion:  Laser cladding inputs less than 20% of the heat compared to arc cladding the same part.  The reduction in thermal distortion of the part is dramatic.  In many cases fewer follow-up operations such as machining and straightening are required to fix thermal distortion problems.  Because of the low heat and distortion, thin-walled components that could not be clad with arc cladding can be clad with a laser.

Small Heat Affected Zone:  Because of the reduced heat input, the heat-affected zone is greatly reduced, increasing the strength of the part.

Very Low Dilution:  Low heat input also decreases the dilution of the clad.  Reduced mixing of the base metal and the clad layer means a purer clad layer with better metallurgical properties and higher corrosion-resistance and wear properties. 

Thinner Clad Layers:  Due to lower dilution rates, thinner clad layers (compared to arc welding) can be applied with the same wear or corrosion properties.  This can significantly reduce clad material costs. 

High Solidification Rate:  Because of the high solidification rate and low thermal input, materials such as carbides can be added, greatly improving the wear resistance of the coating.  Conventional arc welding processes melt the carbide particles.

Ability to Clad Traditionally “Un-Weldable” Materials: Low heat input and fast solidification allow cladding of materials like carbon-rich steels or nickel-based super-alloys.  These materials are difficult or even impossible to weld using conventional welding technologies.

Superior Process Control

Better Layer Thickness Control and Surface Finish: Laser cladding offers better control of layer thickness, the ability to apply thinner clad layers and better surface finishes.  The ability to apply a more near net shape coating reduces the amount of finish machining required and reduces the amount of excess clad material applied.

Unlimited Clad Thickness: Multiple clad layers can be applied to achieve any thickness.

High Repeatability and Process Stability: Automated control of the process provides exceptional parameter control yielding excellent process stability and reliable, repeatable results.


High Deposition Rates: High deposition rates can be achieved, especially using hotwire technology, which reduces the application time.

Greatly Extended Part Lifetimes: Laser clads offer superior corrosion and wear resistance properties compared to plasma or thermal spray and arc welding, extending the part life dramatically.

Material Options

One of the many benefits of the laser cladding process is that it is compatible with a very wide range of material options, in wire or powder form; the options for material properties are almost endless. At Nittany Laser Technologies, our laser cladding tools are designed to be quickly interchangeable between powder, wire, and hotwire filler materials - thus taking full advantage of the material versatility of the laser cladding process.

Advantages of Powder

Material Selection:
  Powder provides virtually unlimited potential to vary the alloy composition, allowing the use of carbides and other materials not available in wire form.

Advantages of Wire

100% Material Capture: Unlike powder, there is no wasted material when cladding with wire filler material.

Lower Material Costs: The cost of wire filler material is much less than the same material in powder form.

Not Affected by Gravity: Wire is not affected by gravity the way powder is, allowing for out-of-position cladding.

2-5X Higher Deposition Rate with Hotwire: Preheating the wire before it enters the melt-pool reduces the laser energy required to melt the filler material, thus achieving much higher deposition rates using the same laser power.