The modeling of laser-based processes is increasingly addressed in a competitive environment for two main reasons: Preventing a trial-and-error approach to set the optimum processing conditions and non-destructive real-time control. In this frame, a thermal model for laser heating in the form of non-penetrative bead-on-plate welds of aluminum alloy 2024 is proposed in this paper. A super-Gaussian profile is considered for the transverse optical intensity and a number of laws for temperature-dependent material properties have been included aiming to improve the reliability of the model. The output of the simulation in terms of both thermal evolution of the parent metal and geometry of the fusion zone is validated in comparison with the actual response: namely, a two-color pyrometer is used to infer the thermal history on the exposed surface around the scanning path, whereas the shape and size of the fusion zone are assessed in the transverse cross-section. With an average error of 3% and 4%, the model is capable of predicting the peak temperature and the depth of the fusion zone upon laser heating, respectively. The model is intended to offer a comprehensive description of phenomena in laser heating in preparation for a further model for repairing via additive manufacturing.
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