Potential Benefits of adoption of Laser Materials Processing in East Africa's Manufacturing Industry

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DeKUT International Conference
Laser technology is applied in a wide range of applications in various sectors, including industrial manufacturing, medical, and communication, among others. The laser is a versatile tool for materials processing as it is a non-contact tool that is CNC programmable and can be utilized in various industrial production processes. One of the most important and unique features of laser radiation is that it can be focused into a microscopic spot size generating high power densities in tens MW/cm2 that are capable of melting and vaporizing metals at fast rate yielding high speed production processes. Different types of laser sources - differing in features such as operating wavelength, maximum output power, beam quality, and method of beam delivery - are now widely deployed in specific applications with realization of benefits in process performance and product quality. The laser characteristics that benefit various laser materials processing applications include kilowatt output power, high beam quality, fiber optic beam delivery, and small footprint (compact laser systems). Lasers are used in the manufacturing industry for materials processing applications such as cutting and welding of metals, surface hardening and cladding of metals, joining of plastics, marking/engraving, drilling/micromachining, etc. Equipment manufacturers often use the laser in production processes such as profile cutting and welding of metals; the laser is often utilized in profile cutting of sheet and plate metal whereby a large number of parts are nested to improve material usage and avoid wastage. The laser is also used for maintenance and repair works involving surface hardening and surface cladding of worn out machine components. Uganda and Kenya have recently started to exploit their oil deposits and there are prospects of industrial growth in the region to service the oil sector as well as other sectors that will benefit from the oil proceeds. Large multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects - such the Standard Gauge Railway, SGR, the Lamu Port, Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor, LAPSSET and Uganda-Tanzania oil pipeline – are also underway in the region. Consequently, East Africa’s manufacturing industries need to position themselves to meet the stringent demands for high quality equipment and machinery for the oil and gas industry as well as meet the maintenance requirements of such an ultramodern infrastructure. The process benefits that will be realized from utilization of laser technology in East Africa’s manufacturing industry include high productivity through high processing speeds, reproducibility of high product quality, and flexibility of manufacturing as the same laser source can be used for different production processes.
Laser Technology, Laser materials processing, Cutting, Welding, Micromachining, Surface Hardening, Surface Cladding
Wandera, C., & Niyibizi, A. (2018). Potential benefits of adoption of laser materials processing in East Africa’s manufacturing industry. In 3rd DeKUT International Conference on STI&E NYERI, KENYA (pp. 125-141).