Galvanized steels have been widely used in the different industries such as automotive, aerospace and marine industry, due to their high corrosion resistance and excellent mechanical properties. However, the zinc coating on the metal sheet offers a big challenge to the welding operation, specifically in the high-power laser welding process of the lap joint if the metal sheets are installed in a gap-free configuration. Spatters, one of the critical problems for the weld quality, is readily generated by the high-pressurized zinc vapor developed at the interface of two metal sheets. It takes extra procedures to clean the weld surface or repair the blowholes generated by the spatters. The on-line process monitoring is critical to assure the achievement of the high quality welds. Therefore, it is necessary to develop an on-line efficient monitoring system for the welding of galvanized steels. In the past few years, acoustic emission (AE) technique has been applied to monitor different manufacturing processes. This paper will highlight its application in the laser welding of galvanized steels. An AE signal acquisition system is used to real-time monitor the welding process. The results of the investigation show that the amplitude of AE signals varies with the welding process status. When the welding process is stable, the amplitudes of AE signals are almost constant and with the low intensity compared to the AE emission signals when the weld defects are presented. When the spatter is formed, a sharp spike with the high amplitude is shown in the collected acoustic emission signal. In order to extract the features of the AE signals in frequency domain, the acquired signal in time domain is further processed using Short-time Fourier Transformation (STFT). The STFT processed results indicated that the spatter-induced AE signals cover a wide range of frequencies and the background noise is mainly presented in the range below 100 Hz.

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