Penta Laser Processing Technology Empowers China's Intelligent Shipbuilding Industry

Dec 27, 2023

With the development of the times, shipbuilding technology has been continuously improved, and shipbuilding materials and design have also evolved with the changing times. The "Medium and Long-term Development Plan for the Shipbuilding Industry" approved and issued by the State Council clearly sets out the guiding principles and development goals of the industry. The guiding principles are to deepen reform, accelerate development, adhere to the path of new industrialization; improve independent research and development capabilities and supporting capabilities for marine equipment, and enhance the core competitiveness of the shipbuilding industry. Both "introducing" and "going global" are emphasized, and shipbuilding enterprises should focus on introducing and digesting modular outfitting, efficient welding, cutting, and other key shipbuilding technologies, as well as modern shipbuilding production management technologies.


Laser cutting technology has made continuous progress and development with the advancement of the times, and laser power has increased from the initial 500W or 1kW to the current 30kW or 40kW. Laser cutting can develop vigorously because it has advantages that cannot be replaced by traditional cutting methods, such as good cutting quality, fast cutting speed, safety and pollution-free, and the ability to cut a wide range of materials. It is commonly applied in various industries such as aerospace, shipbuilding, furniture decoration, medical equipment, agricultural machinery, and the automotive industry.


As an advanced welding technology, laser welding has the characteristics of high welding efficiency, good welding quality, and less welding material consumption. For medium-thick plates, laser-arc hybrid welding, as the current advanced welding technology, is being applied in industries such as aerospace, rail transportation, construction machinery, and steel structures.


Laser cleaning, as a new metal surface treatment technology, is also gradually being applied in industrial production. Laser cleaning can remove paint, rust, pre-weld metal oxide film, post-weld oxide layer, and so on from the metal surface.


As the initiator of the Zhejiang Provincial "Penta Plan" research and development project, Penta Laser proposes a comprehensive solution for high-efficiency cutting and welding of ships, focusing on key technologies and equipment for laser-arc hybrid welding of medium-thick plates.


An integrated solution of laser cutting and welding in shipbuilding


Penta Laser has combined the usage of laser-arc hybrid welding in German shipyards like Meyer Werft and Blohm + Voss, as well as China's CIMC Raffles shipyard, to propose this integrated solution.


This comprehensive solution adopts a production line approach and includes modules such as raw material processing, laser cutting for ship plates, T-beam wing plate and bottom plate laser cutting, ship plate laser-arc welding, T-beam laser-arc hybrid welding, and ship plate and T-beam laser-arc hybrid corner welding.


The incoming material processing module


The incoming material processing module includes an automated system for "incoming material-handling, cleaning, shot blasting, correction, coating, and conveying" of the plates. This module is designed with automation in mind, allowing the plates to move along the assembly line and complete the pre-processing steps. This reduces the need for manual lifting and transportation of the plates, saving both manpower and resources.


The ship plate laser cutting module


The shipbuilding industry primarily uses steel plate materials, and the cutting demand mainly comes from ship plates, T-beam components, and other cutting materials. This solution adopts the BULL series large-format laser cutting machine from Penta, which can expand the cutting range to a width of 20 meters and a length of 60 meters, meeting the cutting needs of most plate materials.


The shipbuilding steel plates obtained through laser cutting have good cutting seam quality, good verticality of the cutting edge, no slag hanging, thin oxide layer, smooth surface, no need for secondary processing, can be directly welded, and have minimal thermal deformation. The high precision of curve cutting reduces fitting time and achieves seamless cutting of precision ship plates.


In addition, the laser cutting machine has great advantages in processing medium and thick plates. Its speed is faster than traditional plasma cutting, and with increasing power, the cutting speed of 10mm-50mm carbon steel plates also increases. Similarly, as the power increases, the maximum cutting thickness of carbon steel plates continues to increase.


Ship Plate Laser Arc Hybrid Welding Module


Traditional ship plate splicing welding usually uses gas shielded welding and submerged arc welding methods. For thicker plates, groove cutting and multi-layer multi-pass welding are required. For certain positions of the ship plate, due to its thickness, it needs to be flipped over for welding after the front side is welded. The manufacturing process is labor-intensive and requires a significant amount of manpower and resources. With laser arc hybrid welding, it is possible to achieve single-sided welding and double-sided forming without groove cutting on thick plates. The welding speed can generally reach 1.2m/min or higher, and the welding efficiency is 5-8 times higher than traditional welding methods. After welding, the plate has better forming effect and does not require secondary processing of the weld seam.


In the ship plate laser arc hybrid welding module, Penta Laser has proposed a solution for large-scale dual gantry laser arc hybrid welding. The dual gantry serves as the motion mechanism for the hybrid welding head and also acts as the fixture carrier. At the center position of the dual gantry, a disc milling cutter is arranged to perform mechanical machining on the end face of the transported ship plate, preventing the cutting oxide layer from contaminating the weld pool and affecting the welding quality. At the same time, a laser cleaning head is installed in front of the laser hybrid welding head to remove surface paint at the joint position, preventing the paint from affecting the welding process.


In the T Beam laser arc hybrid welding module, traditional T Beam welding typically uses a combination welding and calibration machine with submerged arc or dual shield welding as the heat source. The welding speed is generally 0.3-0.5m/min, and both sides need to be welded simultaneously. It requires a large amount of welding wire and flux during the welding process. The T-beam often experiences significant deformation after welding, and the correction efficiency is also low. Based on this situation, Penta Laser has developed a specialized machine for T-beam laser arc hybrid welding. The main structure of this machine is similar to that of a traditional angle welding and calibration machine. It uses both laser and arc as heat sources. The dual heat sources can improve welding efficiency and reduce the heat input into the weld seam.


In the traditional ship plate and T Beam angle welding, manual grouping, manual spot welding, and continuous welding by a small car are commonly used. Compared to advanced welding technologies abroad, this production method is outdated, resulting in significant welding deformations and low production efficiency.


Based on this, Penta Laser has proposed a ship plate and T Beam laser arc hybrid angle welding solution. This solution utilizes both laser and arc as heat sources. The laser is incident at a small angle on the weld seam between the ship plate and T Beam. The weld seam after welding can achieve single-side welding with double-sided forming. Compared to traditional small car arc welding, this method improves production efficiency by 5-8 times and reduces welding material consumption by more than 3 times, making it the best alternative to traditional welding.


In summary, Penta Laser can provide a complete solution from material processing to welding and assembly. As a foreign-controlled enterprise, Penta Laser's technology is international, equipment is domestically produced, and services are localized. The increasingly fierce competition drives the market to demand improvements in shipbuilding intelligent manufacturing processes, ship material safety, reliability, and quality. Traditional cutting and welding techniques in shipbuilding will undoubtedly be replaced by new technologies. Laser, known as the "fastest knife," the "most accurate ruler," and the "brightest light," will occupy a pivotal position in the process of intelligent shipbuilding manufacturing due to its high precision, high efficiency, and other characteristics, whether it is for flat cutting or welding.


Application of Laser Cleaning Technology in Shipbuilding


Laser cleaning technology is a highly promising and important technology that is gradually changing industrial environmental protection. In recent years, China's environmental protection policies have become increasingly strict, leading to rapid growth in the demand for laser cleaning in the Chinese market.


Laser cleaning is the process of removing material from a solid (or sometimes liquid) surface by irradiating it with a laser beam. At low laser flux, the material absorbs the laser energy and heats up, causing evaporation or sublimation. At high laser flux, the material is typically converted into plasma.


Compared to traditional cleaning methods such as mechanical friction cleaning, chemical corrosion cleaning, liquid-solid powerful impact cleaning, and high-frequency ultrasonic cleaning, laser cleaning has significant advantages.


Laser cleaning is a green cleaning method that does not require the use of any chemical agents or cleaning fluids. The waste generated from laser cleaning is mostly in the form of solid powder, which is small in volume, easy to store, and recyclable. This easily solves the problem of environmental pollution caused by chemical cleaning.

Traditional cleaning methods often involve contact cleaning, which applies mechanical forces to the surface of the object being cleaned, resulting in damage to the surface or the cleaning medium being attached to the surface of the object, making it difficult to remove and causing secondary pollution. The non-abrasive and non-contact nature of laser cleaning effectively solves these problems.

Laser can be transmitted through optical fibers and combined with robotic systems, enabling convenient long-distance operations and cleaning of areas that are difficult to reach using conventional methods. This ensures the safety of personnel in dangerous environments.

Laser cleaning can remove various types of contaminants from the surfaces of various materials, achieving cleanliness that conventional cleaning methods cannot achieve. It can also selectively clean contaminants on the surface of materials without damaging the material itself.

Laser cleaning is highly efficient and time-saving.

In the shipbuilding process, there is often a need for large-area rust removal of steel and paint removal from metal surfaces. Laser cleaning, with its processing advantages, can replace traditional methods such as mechanical polishing or water sandblasting. By adjusting parameters such as laser power and frequency, the threshold for removing the target contaminants can be ensured, thus protecting the substrate from laser damage. By adjusting the scanning width according to the cleaning surface, different surface widths can be effectively cleaned, ensuring the accuracy of the cleaning area. Furthermore, laser as a clean energy source can effectively prevent occupational diseases among workers, and through efficient dust removal methods, minimize pollution.


In conclusion, the application of laser cleaning technology in shipbuilding provides significant benefits such as environmental friendliness, non-contact cleaning, remote operations, selective cleaning, high efficiency, and worker safety.


Mechanization and automation of cutting and welding are major trends in the shipbuilding industry, and with the development of laser welding technology and increased information exchange, this trend will become increasingly apparent. Since 2018, Penta Laser has invested significant human and material resources in 3D laser cutting, welding, laser cutting and pipe cutting machines, and large-scale cutting machines, achieving significant results. The products are mature and have been installed in batches in the market. In particular, in the field of laser welding, the company has hired technical experts from Germany and Italy, enabling us to improve our welding technology to a leading domestic level. Starting in 2019, Penta Laser has been stably producing handheld laser welding equipment, with over a thousand sets applied and exported to international markets.


We have been continuously innovating to provide the best and most efficient solutions for various industries around the world.

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