Laser cladding technology is widely used in industry to precisely apply tailored surface coatings, as well as three-dimensional deposits for repair and additive layer-by-layer fabrication of metallic parts. However, the processing of larger components, like tools for oil and gas production, is economically challenging due to the conventionally low deposition rates. Consequently, industry is requesting more powerful technologies that maintain the quality advantages of the laser technology, but also make the process more productive and time effective. The modern highest power diode lasers offer practical solutions for applying of large-area laser cladding with significantly increased productivity. Using a fiber-coupled diode laser of 20 kW power and the accordingly developed laser cladding heads, real deposition rates of metal alloys, e.g. Inconel 625, could reach 14 kg/h. With the new-developed powder nozzles with rectangular profile of the powder jet allows at a laser power of 20 kW single tracks with 45 mm-width can be produced. Besides the laser source, the processing laser head is the key parameter for a high productivity and efficiency of the whole cladding procedure. The paper presents a new generation of high-performance laser cladding heads with integrated process sensors, which guarantee a stable long-time operation at highest power levels. The deposition rates achieved with this technology are equal or even exceed typical values of the common PTA technique. Current applications are large-area coatings on power plant components, hydraulic cylinders for off-shore equipment, and large metal forming tools for automotive bodies.

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