Lasers are one of the most influential inventions of the 20th century. Laser technology has been applying for many areas of life, especially is the automotive industry. With outstanding advantages compared to other conventional cutting methods such as the ability to cut edges accurately, low inlet temperature, fast processing speed without affecting, deforming the material and being applied. to cut many different materials such as metal, fabric, plastic ... Laser cutting technology is applied to create metal parts, bar codes and interior car interior.

Since the early 1980s, the automotive industry has been one of the driving forces behind innovative high-power laser applications. This industrial segment has stringent requirements regarding the quality and reliability of beam sources. Improved flexibility and ease of automation, meet the central requirements of this sector, such as having greater flexibility, superior quality, increased productivity and improved profitability.

Today, lasers are used to process complete vehicle bodies. Dynamic Beam Welding; Laser Welding of Carriages; Laser Welding of Tailored Blanks; Laser Cutting of Airbags; Day&Night Marking... are only a few examples out of a wide range of applications.

1. Laser Welding in Automotive Industry

1.1. Dynamic Beam Welding

Within the shortest possible time multi spot welds of any geometry can be generated with Dynamic Beam Welding System (Remote or Scanner Welding Systems) in a very large work space. This system technology is applied amongst others in the production of automobile seats and mountings.

1.2. Laser Welding of Carriages

Flexible fiber optics in connection with modern robots make fiber lasers a perfect tool in the highly automated welding of carriages – independent of applied material and metal gauge.

1.3. Laser Welding of Tailored Blanks

The welding of metal blanks to Tailored Blanks with the laser has already been a standard laser application for a long time. Thereby, linear as well as non-linear joints are generated.

1.4. Laser Welding of Power Train Components

The welding of gear components using laser could be established already a long time ago due to its advantages such as low maintenance costs, low distortions at the work piece, high flexibility and simple automation.

1.5. Fine Welding (Spot and Seam Welding)

Spot and seam welding with the laser are primarily applied for particulate, mechanic and electro-mechanic work pieces, for example when contacting spark plug connectors and power electronics, for sensors and airbag detonators.

Also heavily stressed screwed fastenings are replaced through fine welding. As in many cases copper or aluminum have to be processed high pulse peak capacities of up to 20 kW are applied.

1.6. Laser welding of polymers

The transmission welding entirely displaces the joints into the inner part of the join partner, works with minimal heat input and leaves perfect surfaces. This way, also sensitive components – for instance sensors – can be welded gas-proof.

One of the most well-known fields of application for plastics welding using the laser is car keys that are common today. The laser welds all thermoplastic and thermoplastic elastomeric bonds, pressure-sealed and with high stability.

2. Laser Cutting in Automotive Industry

Automotive manufacturers utilize the advantages of laser cutting, such as the high quality of cutting edges, the low heat input into the material as well as the high processing speeds when working with a variety of work pieces around the car. Thereby, a variety of materials is processed: Besides a multitude of metals also materials such as airbag cloth and composites for interior room parts are cut with the laser. Owing to the good possibility of automation, also complex work piece geometries and various cutting edges can be easily generated.

2.1. Laser Cutting of Airbags

Laser cutting of airbag cloth has the advantage that besides the fast cuts the cloth is melted at the cutting edges immediately, which avoids fraying.

2.2. Laser Cutting of Carriage Components

Due to modern robotics in combination with solid-state lasers and fiber optics necessary cut-outs such as apertures for antennas or right-left-rods can also be applied at complex automobile geometries.

2.3. Laser Cutting of hydroformed Parts & Laser Cutting on Composite Material

Automotive manufacturers utilize the advantages of laser cutting, such as the high quality of cutting edges, the low heat input into the material as well as the high processing speeds when working with a variety of work pieces around the car.

There by, a variety of materials is processed: Besides a multitude of metals also materials such as airbag cloth and composites for interior room parts are cut with the laser. Owing to the good possibility of automation, also complex work piece geometries and various cutting edges can be easily generated.

3. Laser Marking in Automotive Engineering

Steel, light alloys, plastics, composite materials, natural fibers - modern compact cars are assembled of more than 1.0000 parts made of various materials. Many of them have to bear unique markings due to quality assurance and traceability requirements. The markings must outlast a whole car‘s life and even withstand exposure to oil, fuel, or high temperatures.

On most of the materials used in automotive engineering, laser markers can add durable markings with high contrast. Laser markers are used in stand-alone-solutions for marking small parts with high throughput as well as completely integrated into production lines. The flexible, software-controlled process allows individualized marking contents of any kind.

3.1. Day & Night Marking

Day & night laser marking of plastic parts is widely-used in automotive industry and consumer electronics. The laser marker selectively removes specific lacquer layers from multilayer-coated transparent parts. Due to its great flexibility and the low production costs, laser day & night marking has almost completely replaced two-component injection molding. On most of the materials used in automotive engineering, laser markers can add durable markings with high contrast.

Laser markers are used in stand-alone-solutions for marking small parts with high throughput as well as completely integrated into production lines. The flexible, software-controlled process allows individualized marking contents of any kind.

3.2. Label Marking

Steel, light alloys, plastics, composite materials, natural fibers - modern compact cars are assembled of more than 1.0000 parts made of various materials. Many of them have to bear unique markings due to quality assurance and traceability requirements. The markings must outlast a whole car's life and even withstand exposure to oil, fuel, or high temperatures.

When direct marking of the workpiece is not applicable, label marking will be used. Within seconds, the laser marks specially developed labels just-in-time with alphanumeric text, serial numbers and barcodes. Marking contents and label shapes are freely programmable. After marking, the labels are cut out without damaging the carrier foil.

3.3. Tire Marking

CO2 lasers engrave serial numbers, matrix codes and other alphanumeric information into tires. This allows tire manufacturers and customers to identify individual products even many years after production. The laser markings are abrasion-proof and do not affect the tire structure in any way.

3.4. Carve Vin number, track and trace

Vehicle identification (vehicle VIN) is used in the manufacturing automation industry to help manage and trace vehicles and vehicle parts during production. The requirement for engraved numbers is to be absolutely durable and easy to read, cannot be erased, etc. Laser technology is used to improve traceability quality, VIN numbers are created using special fonts and change the parameters to create more distinct curves.

Laser marking is made by non-mechanical “photo knife” and marking can be made on any regular or irregular surface. The marked workpiece will not produce internal stress, and the original precision of the workpiece can be ensured. It neither corrodes working surface nor wear “cutting tools” without any poison or pollution.

4. Cleaning

Equipment and metal material cleaning is one of the newest applications of laser technology. Using fiber laser engraving machine can clean rust, paint, oil... on the car hull, ship hull and machine details...

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