Portable Laser Cladding for the Navy

By E.W. Reutzel, T.A. Palmer, R.P. Martukanitz

Pennsylvania State University’s Applied Research Laboratory has been developing laser-based weld repair techniques for the U.S. Navy for 25 years.  Until recently, the repairs have all been realized in a shop environment, where accessibility is rarely an issue, and where the work space can be carefully controlled in order to realize a laser-safe operating environment.  Laser-based weld repair offers several advantages over conventional techniques: compared to brush-electroplate repairs commonly often used for shipboard repairs, laser-based weld repairs exhibit improved corrosion resistance and durability; compared to arc-based repairs, laser-based weld repairs introduce less heat for reduced distortion and improved dilution.  Recently, ARL Penn State has teamed with several organizations to begin to bring this repair technology onboard the ship, itself—especially beneficial for repair of components that are welded in place.  Several development and implementation activities are discussed, with special emphasis given to lessons learned during the development and implementation of portable laser-based repair.