Development Status and Future Prospect Analysis of 2022 Laser Welding Industry

Laser welding is mainly applied in high-end precision manufacturing fields including power batteries

Laser welding is an efficient and precise welding method that utilizes a high energy density laser beam as a heat source. Together with laser marking (rapidly popularized in 2000) and laser cutting (rapidly applied in 2010), laser welding constitutes a troika of laser processing technology, with a relatively short development time and the greatest technological difficulty. Compared to traditional welding techniques, laser welding has the advantages of deep penetration, fast speed, small deformation, low requirements for the welding environment, high power density, freedom from magnetic field effects, not limited to conductive materials, no need for vacuum working conditions, and no X-ray generation during the welding process. Therefore, laser welding is widely used in high-end precision manufacturing fields, especially in the new energy vehicle and power battery industries.

However, compared to other welding processes, laser welding automation equipment costs higher; High requirements for welding automation equipment make it difficult to manually operate; High requirements for the properties of the material to be welded and the accuracy of the fixture.

The market size of laser processing equipment in China is about 70 billion yuan, with a compound growth rate of 15% in the past five years

In the laser processing equipment industry, the upstream mainly includes optical materials, components, and equipment related components; The midstream is the laser processing equipment industry; Downstream is an industrial application, and the downstream application industries of the laser industry cover a wide range of industries, including the automotive industry, electronic information industry, mechanical industry, communication industry, and so on.

The main core factors that determine the quality of laser welding are laser energy control and welding process technology. 1) Laser capability control: In order to output a uniform and stable welding laser beam to the weldment, it is necessary to have good consistency in the laser output power or be able to accurately control the laser output power. Low power can lead to insufficient welding fusion and affect welding quality, while high power or fluctuation can lead to adverse effects such as spatter and air holes. 2) Welding process technology: Laser welding process technicians constantly explore and summarize, and only through long-term experimental accumulation can good welding results be achieved.

There are various types of lasers, which can be divided into solid state lasers, liquid state lasers, and gas lasers according to the difference in gain media. Solid state lasers are also divided into YAG lasers, fiber lasers, semiconductor lasers, and so on. Various types of lasers use different gain media and technologies to generate lasers, with different emphasis on operating power, machinable materials, and other parameters, which can meet different laser welding needs of customers. Fiber lasers have been widely used in recent years due to their simple structure, high conversion efficiency, good beam quality, low maintenance costs, and good heat dissipation performance.

According to the 2019 China Laser Industry Report, benefiting from the demand for processing equipment such as power batteries, OLEDs, automobiles, sheet metal, and PCBs, the market size of laser processing equipment in China reached 69 billion yuan in 2020, accounting for about half of the global total market, with a compound growth rate of about 15% in the past five years.

It is estimated that the power lithium laser equipment market will reach 23.2 billion yuan in 2025, with a compound growth rate of 44% in the next five years

Power battery manufacturers have high requirements for automation, safety, precision, and processing efficiency of battery production equipment due to multiple welding positions, high difficulty, and high accuracy requirements. Laser welding technology can significantly improve the safety, reliability, and consistency of batteries, reduce costs, and extend service life. It is widely used in the field of power batteries.

In the production of power batteries, the steps of using laser welding include: 1) the middle section: welding of the electrode lug (including pre welding), spot welding of the electrode strip, pre welding of the electrical core into the shell, sealing welding of the housing top cover, sealing welding of the liquid injection port, etc; 2) Rear section: including the welding of the connecting piece of the battery pack module, and the welding of the explosion-proof valve on the cover plate behind the module.

Laser welding equipment is currently the standard equipment for power battery production lines, and is one of the key links in the production line. According to the statistics of high-end lithium batteries, the corresponding investment per GWh of new production capacity is about 800 million yuan, and laser equipment accounts for about 5-15% of the investment of power battery manufacturers. Referring to previous reports, we estimate that the total demand for lithium battery equipment in China (new+updated) will be 174/307/374/409/442GWh in 2021-2025. Assuming that the single GWh investment in laser equipment accounts for 25% of the single GWh investment in lithium battery equipment, we estimate that the market space for domestic laser equipment in 2021-2025 will be 109/184/215/225/232 billion yuan, with a compound growth rate of 44%.

About HGSTAR: HGSTAR is is a sub-brand of HGTECH.HGTECH the pioneer and leader of laser industrial application in China, and the authoritative provider of global laser processing solutions. We have comprehensively arranged laser intelligent machine, measurement and automation production lines, and smart factory construction to provide overall solutions for intelligent manufacturing.

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