What is Laser Cladding?
Laser cladding is an additive manufacturing process that utilizes a laser to metallurgically bond performance coatings to a product’s base material. This is typically done to enhance the component’s performance or longevity. Laser cladding can also be used to fabricate 3D parts with high design flexibility as coatings are deposited on top of each other to form a solid part layer by layer.
Laser Cladding Benefits
- Improved wear resistance over other coatings
- Greater impact resistance
- Little to no distortion, regardless of part size
- Even carbide distribution
Kondex was an early adopter of laser enhancing technology in bringing this offering to our industries served. Since implementation in 2010, we’ve learned numerous lessons on how to best leverage the technology — as well as what to avoid. While copycat operations have since tried to mimic our success with this technology, our level of expertise and experience have exponentially surpassed these newcomers. When it comes to laser cladding, the equipment alone is not enough to produce the true value of a Kondex laser clad part.
With several hundred, if not thousands, of successful laser clad projects behind us and millions of shipped laser clad products, Kondex is your trusted source for production laser cladding.
There are a wide variety of laser cladding powders available, each with its own pros and cons. By first reviewing your product goals, our expert team of metallurgists and engineers can recommend one of our unique powders to best achieve your objectives.
Case Study: Flame Spray vs. Laser Cladding
For decades, thermal spray (also referred to as flame spray) was considered the best way to prolong the life of high-wear components. Kondex utilized this technology for approximately 10 years and became the premier provider for thermal spray applications.
While it offered many benefits, thermal spray also came with limitations — costly setups, multi-stage processes, little application flexibility, risk of heat distortion, and susceptibility to chipping due to its mechanical bond properties. As Kondex grew its name as a flame spray provider, it continued to explore additional means to combat product wear and learned of laser cladding technologies.
The company began laser cladding trials and exploration in 2010 and quickly saw the potential of this cutting-edge technology. With a metallurgical bond and capability to enhance components to isolated areas, product design opportunities were now significantly broadened. The design teams buzzed as field tests came back showing 10% or more product life than that of flame spray, and a wave of innovation ensued.
Between its demand from customers and the continued desire to explore new product applications, Kondex’s laser technology cell was running around the clock.
In 2015, Kondex began a pivotal move to transition all thermal spray operations to its more advanced and innovative laser enhanced processes. This drove large capital investments in expanding its laser technology capacity, offerings, and operators. The company’s laser additive demand continues to grow due to its preferred qualities, exceptional outcomes, and added value.
“We made a stand in our industry and tied our future to what we believe, and have demonstrated to be, a far superior process,” said Kondex President Keith Johnson. “While we’ve had others try to follow our laser technology lead, our resume, knowledge, experience, and continued exploration far exceeds that of our competition.”
|Thermal Spray||Laser Technology|
Mechanical bond (delaminates)
|Metallurgical bond (resilient and impact resistant)|
|Process||Multi-phase (cleaning, blasting, masking, and fusing)||Single-step precision|
|Heat Affected Zone (HAZ)||Broad HAZ limits applications, creates distortion||Low HAZ for little to no distortion|
Scattered carbide distribution (inconsistent wear protection)
|Even carbide distribution and wear protection|
Single layer only
Single, variable, or multi-layer options
|Multipurpose (laser cladding, laser heat treat, laser remelting, and laser additive)|
|Powders||Limited options||Extensive, solution-specific powder availability|
|Ductile Iron Compatible||N/A||Ductile iron enhancement opportunities|
Some wear reduction
|10%+ greater reduction in product wear than thermal spray|
Contact us to review your product goals and determine the right laser cladding solution for you.