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The process of welding has been around since the Bronze Age, and it has been in a constant state of evolution from the beginning. Now, instead of melting bronze and hammering it with manual equipment, we use lasers, robots, and computers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual pay for welders in 2022 was $50,460, with the top 10 percent making $68,750. In fact, a welder's pay can increase past the top 10 percentage if he or she chooses to specialize. Laser welding is one of these specialties.
Read on to learn more about laser welding and how to get trained in this growing field.
What is Laser Welding?
Laser, or “light amplification by stimulated emissions of radiation,” is now a popular type of welding. There are two different types of lasers used for welding: hard optics and fiber optics. Hard optics uses mirrors and a lens to deflect the laser. Fiber optics uses a cable to channel the laser. Fiber optics are easier to use, because the laser can be moved. With hard optics, the welder needs to re-position the object manually.
Laser welding is becoming more advantageous than traditional welding methods, due to its precision on any material. It is also a faster process because of its welding rate, which is measured in milliseconds. In addition, it uses much less heat, and results in very little mess.
It creates low distortion, high-quality welds. Laser welding doesn’t need any filler materials and can fuse two different types of metals.
How do You Become a Laser Welder?
Few schools in the country offer a specialization in laser welding. But diplomas are available if you look.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison has three programs for welders to specialize in laser welding:
- The LWPSM-Laser Welding Professional
- The LWTSSM-Laser Welding Technical Specialist
- The ALWPSM-Accredited Associate Laser Welding Professional
These programs will teach you to set up, calibrate, and operate a laser welder, or qualify you to design, engineer, and manage anything to do with the laser equipment.
Online courses, like the American Welding Society’s Welding Fundamentals II, can give you a full overview of the process as well.
Besides formal instruction in laser welding, having a background in computers is necessary — the shift toward robotics is in full swing, making it increasingly important for welders to understand the technology they're working with.
Tying it All Together
If laser welding is something you’d like to get into, then attend a welding school to learn the core processes first. Then, speak with your professors about specializing. Along with academic advisors, they can help you formulate a plan for your coursework.
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