Zeroing In on High-Purity Gases for Western Michigan Laser Welding03/22/2018 Lasers were proposed originally by – wouldn't you guess it – Albert Einstein at the start of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the 1980s, though, that lasers were used to solder lead in electronic component circuit boards. And it wasn’t until 2002 that CO2 lasers were used to weld polymers. Today, GTW, one of more than 150 PurityPlus® Partners at 600 locations coast to coast, is thrilled to be a trusted Western Michigan provider of the high-purity specialty gases so essential to the gas laser welding process. Our principle customers are significantly automated high-volume manufacturers. Those engaged in the automotive industry are perhaps the most identifiable examples of such. A gaggle of gas laser fundamentals: Resonator gases are most often an admixture of helium (He), carbon dioxide (CO2), and nitrogen (N2). The active gas that actually engenders the laser light itself – infrared radiation – is CO2.Shielding gases protect the weld area from oxygen and water vapor, which helps boost the speed and quality of the welding process. Argon is the most prevalent shielding gas. It tends to be mixed with helium, oxygen, or carbon dioxide, which significantly raises its plasma suppression properties.As a resonator gas, ultra-high-purity (99.999%) PurityPlus® helium offers remarkably high thermal conductivity, the better to conduct heat away from the electric discharge. This makes it perfect for very high-powered laser welding.PurityPlus® carbon dioxide, while much used by itself to run CO2 lasers, is better mixed with helium and nitrogen so as to realize the very high laser powers mandatory for laser cutting and welding.PurityPlus® nitrogen, particularly as an intermediary with CO2, is also helpful in securing very high laser powers.PurityPlus® argon, an inert gas and thus first-rate as a shielding gas in laser welding, affords complete protection against ambient air. Since it typically assists in plasma generation, it should not be used for laser powers above 3 kW. Whatever your singular laser welding application here in Western Michigan, you can be sure we’ve got the PurityPlus® specialty gases with the certified high- or ultra-high purity required to accomplish it. Contact GTW today.