Laser Hardening

Today’s markets demand high levels of component reliability and durability as well as long technical lives. These demands require engineers to design components with sufficiently stress-resistant subsurface areas.

For the technology of treating surfaces through laser hardening, the Fraunhofer IPT is developing new approaches in surface functionalization and the provision of anti-wear resistance. In comparison with conventional techniques of hardening the subsurface areas such as flame hardening and induction hardening, laser hardening offers superior levels of flexibility, reproducibility and dimensional accuracy (low warpage). It is also relatively easy to control on a technical level.

The component is hardened through the heat of the laser beam that is locally applied to its surface. By transmitting the heat quickly into the interior of the work piece (a process known as self-quenching), a hard, martensitic microstructure is formed in the outer areas of the component (down to a depth of approx. 1.5 mm). One key objective of the research which is currently conducted at the Fraunhofer IPT is to reach significantly deeper levels of penetration. We are also experimenting with customized free-form optics as possible instruments for the precise definition and control of hardness profiles.

Our Services

  • Feasibility studies for the application of laser hardening
  • Laser hardening process development for your future range of products
  • Laser hardening of customized small-sized batches
  • Integration of laser hardening into existing process chains
  • Design and construction of laser hardening facilities or integration of laser systems into machine tools

Steam turbine blades

Turbine blades in the low-pressure zones of steam turbines are subject to high levels of wear due to the impact of water drops. By laser hardening the leading edges, it is possible to lengthen the technical life spans of the turbine blades significantly.

Bearing seats

Bearing seats can be subjected to controlled hardening by laser beams, guaranteeing low levels of warpage. By integrating laser systems into machine tools, laser hardening strategies can be combined with machining processes and other techniques.

Gearing systems

Gearing connections are required elements of power transmission systems and should have high levels of wear resistance. Laser treatment can serve to harden the tooth flanks. This does not affect the tooth root, which will preserve its toughness.

Tool cutting edges

Laser beams can harden complex tool cutting edges with high levels of accuracy and precision, even in areas that are difficult to access.

Clusters of Excellence

  • Laser hardening of bolts  in hybrid machine tools
  • Seamless laser hardening on rotationally symmetrical components
  • Laser hardening of thin-walled components


The use of free-form optics in laser hardening

Bilateral Industry Projects

Laser hardening of turbine blades