According to Wikipedia, the term ‘cladding’ refers to the application of one material over another to provide a skin or layer intended to control the infiltration of weather elements, or for aesthetic purposes. Cladding does not necessarily have to provide a water-proof condition but is instead a control element. This control element may only serve to safely direct water or wind in order to control run-off and prevent infiltration into the building structure. Researchers at the CSIR have demonstrated to Eskom a world first laser cladding system that offers a permanent solution to sealing links and repairs at power stations.
Researchers at the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) have demonstrated a world-first laser cladding system that offers a permanent solution to sealing leaks and repairing cracks at power stations.
The patented laser beam-welding and leak-sealing technology, which was developed for Eskom in collaboration with Eskom welding engineers, will aid in the maintenance of South Africa’s power stations, particularly in the sealing and repair of leaking water coolers in situ.
During the demonstration to Eskom and other external stakeholders, the CSIR National Laser Centre head, Dr Ndumiso Cingo, said, “This is a world-first technology designed and developed in South Africa by South Africans.”
The impact of this development will be fully appreciated only much later, he said. “The technology breakthrough coincides with the 50th anniversary of the laser. The design and development of this technology has proved that the application of lasers extends much further than could have been foreseen when they were first demonstrated a few decades ago,” he said. “The application of lasers also extends to all aspects of modern manufacturing, especially in the technology of refurbishment and maintenance.”
The laser welding and cladding system is mobile and able to reach multi-storey heights with the laser power unit located firmly on the ground. The system functions by remote control provided by an operator on the ground.
“We have designed a system that is completely mobile and can execute maintenance and repairs on site,” said NLC operations manager, Hardus Greyling.
Laser cladding is a remarkably accurate and an effective process whereby weld overlays of layers as thin as 0,1 mm can be applied, with minimal distortion to original components.
This is specifically valuable when performing maintenance welding on components.
Laser cladding is extensively researched and applied to new industrial applications at the CSIR.