Making underwater works on offshore wind farms, bridges or locks fast, efficient and safe - this is the aim of the automated laser cutting underwater. The new process technology is being developed at the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH).
For conventional separation processes underwater, light arc oxygen cutting is mainly used. Here, the electrode is hand-guided. Depending on the thickness of the material, a diver needs one workday on average to cut 20 meters of the material. The laser-based, automated process by the LZH shall increase the cutting speed by up to a factor of seven in the future. In current tests, a cutting speed of 20 millimeter per second is achieved. With this technique, metal processing underwater will become much faster and more cost-efficient. Moreover, the work of the divers can be made safer and more efficient.
The process is being developed for dismantling sheet pilings in two to six meters deep water. The focus is on the reliable separation of the material in order to avoid expensive post-processing. In addition, this method could also be used for the maintenance and repair of offshore and other waterway structures, as well as for the dismantling of nuclear power power plants.