A 45 kW laser system was installed in 1994 at “Institut de Soudure” (IS) in France in order to evaluate the possibilities and advantages of very high power laser beams in welding. Some results of welds achieved on various materials (Mild steel, stainless steel, TA6V...), different thicknesses (>30 mm) and large components (several meters) are presented. The objectives of an important R & D program launched recently for exploring the different aspects of laser welding in thick section steel fabrication is outlined.

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