Development of a Water-Jet Assisted Underwater Laser Cutting Process
Abstract:We present the development of a new underwater laser
cutting process in which a water-jet has been used along with the
laser beam to remove the molten material through kerf. The
conventional underwater laser cutting usually utilizes a high pressure
gas jet along with laser beam to create a dry condition in the cutting
zone and also to eject out the molten material. This causes a lot of gas
bubbles and turbulence in water, and produces aerosols and waste
gas. This may cause contamination in the surrounding atmosphere
while cutting radioactive components like burnt nuclear fuel. The
water-jet assisted underwater laser cutting process produces much
less turbulence and aerosols in the atmosphere. Some amount of
water vapor bubbles is formed at the laser-metal-water interface;
however, they tend to condense as they rise up through the
surrounding water. We present the design and development of a
water-jet assisted underwater laser cutting head and the parametric
study of the cutting of AISI 304 stainless steel sheets with a 2 kW
CW fiber laser. The cutting performance is similar to that of the gas
assist laser cutting; however, the process efficiency is reduced due to
heat convection by water-jet and laser beam scattering by vapor. This
process may be attractive for underwater cutting of nuclear reactor
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