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In-bore Robotic Laser Cutting and Welding Tools for Nuclear Fusion Reactors
S. Kirk, K. Keogh, L. Naidu and T. Tremethick

The installation and decommissioning of components in nuclear fusion reactors will require quick, and reliable, cutting and welding of hundreds of thick-walled steel cooling pipes. To this end, laser cutting and welding techniques have been investigated and prototype in-bore robotic tools have been developed to apply these laser process within a pipe. The prototype laser tools include a novel miniaturised laser head design to fit within the confines of the pipe and apply the laser processes with a short standoff distance. The novel laser heads and prototype tools were manufactured and used for a series of demonstration trials at a high power laser facility. Here, we will present the design of the laser optics heads and prototype tools, results of the high power laser trials, analysis of the demonstration cuts and welds produced, and laser process issues discovered during the trials.

Keywords: Fibre laser, laser head, P91 alloy steel, 316L stainless steel, cooling pipes, nuclear fusion reactors, laser cutting, in-bore, robotics

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