Vaporization of alloying elements is a serious problem in the laser welding of many important engineering alloys. Since the available mass transfer correlations are not applicable for credible assessment of the rates of transport of vaporized species in the gas phase, the role of gas phase mass transfer in the overall vaporization of alloying elements was examined by conducting several critical experiments. The rates of transport of alloying elements in the weld pool were determined from numerically computed fluid flow fields. Since the weld pool is surrounded by plasma during laser welding, the role of plasma in the vaporization of alloying elements was physically modeled by allowing molten copper drops to vaporize isothermally both in the presence and absence of plasma. The transport of alloying elements in both liquid and gas phases was found to be rapid and the overall vaporization rates were controlled by the plasma influenced intrinsic vaporization of alloying elements at the weld pool surface. The experimentally obtained rates of vaporization of alloying elements from laser melted stainless steel weld pools were compared with the corresponding theoretically calculated values.
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