A single-phase problem is solved rather than a multiphase problem for numerical simplicity: and the solution is based on the assumption that the region of gas or plasma can be treated as a void because solid or liquid steel has a greater density level than gas or plasma. The volume-of-fluid method, which can calculate the free surface shape of the keyhole, is used in conjunction with a ray-tracing algorithm to estimate the multiple reflections. Fresnel's reflection model is simplified by the Hagen-Rubens relation for handling a laser beam interaction with materials. Factors considered in the simulations include buoyancy force. Marangoni force and recoil pressure; furthermore, pore generation is simulated by means of an adiabatic bubble model, which can also lead to the phenomenon of a keyhole collapse. Models of the shear stress on the keyhole surface and of the heat transfer to the molten pool via a plasma plume are introduced in simulations of the weld pool dynamics. Analysis of the temperature profile characteristics of the weld bead and molten pool flow in the molten pool is based on the results of the numerical simulations. The simulation results are used to estimate the weld fusion zone shape; and the results of the simulated fusion zone formation are compared with the results of the experimental fusion zone formation and found to be in good agreement. The effects of laser beam profile (Gaussian vs. measured), vapor shear stress, vapor heat source and sulfur content on the molten pool behavior and fusion zone shape are analyzed. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.