Automated Laser Welding: What You Need to Know

authorIcon By Keven Tremblay on May 14, 2024 topicIcon Laser Welding

Not so long ago, CO2 lasers were the only lasers available for laser welding—and they had important limitations for automation. The arrival of fiber laser technology has drastically changed the landscape, offering high speed, high precision, low maintenance, and rock-solid stability through movements and vibrations.

In this article, we will look at the development of laser welding automation, going from CO2 to fiber laser welding. We will also look at important automation tools used as part of these solutions.


Table of Contents

The Early Days with CO2 Lasers

From the very beginning of laser welding, manufacturers saw the potential for automation. In the 1970s—1980s, CO2 lasers were the first lasers to be used for all kinds of welding applications. 

In the automotive industry, they were used to weld components like exhaust systems, chassis parts, and body panels. In the aerospace industry, they were used to weld components like fuselage sections and engine parts.

CO2 lasers, however, were limited—and still are—by their optical configuration. Mechanical vibrations can cause optical misalignments that reduce the beam’s quality and performance. Simply moving the laser using a robot or a gantry system can cause misalignments.

CO2 laser welding system optical configuration

The optical configuration of a CO2 laser welding system, showing how it generates, shapes, guides, and focuses the laser beam (source)

So, while CO2 lasers were used to automate welding, they still required frequent adjustments—not only to realign the optical configuration, but also to replace degraded components like mirrors, lenses, and windows.

As a result, CO2 lasers were used to weld simple geometries that did not require to displace the laser, such as circular workpieces that could be rotated (like transmissions).

A Breakthrough with Fiber Lasers

Advances in fiber technology have made automation much easier by reducing maintenance and providing a much sturdier optical configuration. Laser welding is now used in ways that were not possible in the early stages.

To be properly aligned, the optical configuration only requires an initial connection between the laser and the fiber optic cable. The cable itself does not require alignment. This characteristic offers greater flexibility, as the laser does not require frequent realignment. 

Fiber laser system optical configuration

The optical configuration of a fiber laser system, showing the more stable beam delivery (source)

Mechanical damage can still occur if the fiber cable becomes bended too much. This characteristic is listed as the minimum bend radius in product specifications. It indicates how tightly a cable can be bent before damage happens. A smaller radius indicates a more bent cable.

When laser welding with robots, gantries, or CNCs, it’s important to make sure that the cable is long enough and never bent too much. A longer cable can help reduce bending.

Minimum bend radius diagram


Automation Tools for Laser Welding

SCARA Robots to Clamp Tabs to Busbars


SCARA robots can be used to clamp tabs to busbars during laser welding. By using multiple robots, this laser welding machine maximizes the laser’s uptime by ensuring that welding does not have to wait after clamping.

Inline Weld Monitoring Systems to Control Quality

Data from a weld monitoring system

A weld monitoring system is essential if you want to automate welding. These systems use feedback from sensors, cameras, and other devices during the welding process to examine the quality of the welds. Automatically detecting defective welds is a big advantage in production as it prevents having to perform manual tests to control quality.

Various types of systems can be used to monitor your welding process. The most common ones are LWM and LDD systems.

Robotic Welding for Maximum Flexibility


Robots can move the welding head precisely and quickly to access various positions and orientations. They are ideal to weld complex shapes and large workpieces that cannot be covered without moving the laser.

Remote Welding Heads for Quick Beam Movements


Remote laser welding is when the laser head is physically separated from the laser source. Remote systems can direct the laser beam very quickly using mirrors called galvanometers. They can also be equipped with fast-focusing optics to quickly adapt for surfaces with varying heights.

Remote laser heads can either be static and join components that are within their line of sight. Or, they can be mounted on robots, gantries, or CNCs to achieve maximum flexibility and access difficult areas.

Fiber lasers are ideal for remote laser welding due to their compact size and good beam quality that is maintained over long distances. 

Looking for a Battery Welding Solution?

If you are looking for an automated welding solution for batteries, we can help you:
  • Evaluate the feasibility of laser welding for your project
  • Develop a custom laser welding process
  • See how laser welding impacts your product design
  • Go from design to full scale production


Let Us Know Your Application


Keven Tremblay's picture

Keven Tremblay

Keven is the product line manager for Laserax’s battery welding solutions. He has a strong background in electrical engineering, especially in PLC programming, electrical design, and vision systems. He is often involved in evaluating customer needs to offer adapted industrial solutions.