In previously reported work on this subject [1] it was shown that fundamental mode, fiber laser, lap welding offers an attractive solution to the challenges of fuel cell component assembly. Successful laser lap welding of 100-µm-thick, 304 stainless steel sheets at speeds up to 1 m/s have been demonstrated, and good gap tolerance is shown to be possible at high welding speeds. Improvements in lap weld fixturing, using compliant clamping concepts, have shown strong promise for improved dimensional control and have made it possible to perform partial-penetration lap welding with good consistency. Other fuel cell component metals of interest, including Crofer 22 and Haynes 230 alloy have also been laser welded with good results, and the feasibility of mixed metal welding has been demonstrated. Based on the welding speeds and weld quality demonstrated here it is estimated that 10 to 30 fiber lasers in the 300-W power range could satisfy the production needs for bi-polar plate welding of a modest production, fuel cell vehicle.

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