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Advantages of Laser Technology in Automotive Industry

2013-09-02 Back to list

Abstract: In this paper,Three kinds of applications of laser technology in automobile industry are introduced. And describe the application prospect of laser technology in automobile industry, combine with the development trend of automobile industry.

Keyword: laser automobile processing

Every day the top automotive expert are thinking about the question: how to make automobile safer? How to make the manufacture of automobile easier? How to make the whole automobile even every component more beautiful and more meticulous? How to reduce energy consumption and cost during automobile manufacture.

As continuous development of technology, new processing technology and processing skills offer new ways to solve the problems -- laser technology, as one of the most important invention in this century, laser was called “ problem-solving tool” when it was invented, laser technology has huge market potential in industrial manufacture.

Especially now “ flexible manufacture” is widely popularized, automobile industry is faced revolution, automobile components industry is transiting from large quantity production to small quantity and diversified production, market-oriented manufacturing methods will be progressively popularized, “Production Line” is being replaced by “Production Station”, the space and time controlling of laser are good, it can adapt quickly variety of material, form and size, especially suitable for flexible processing, it will play a important role in this revolution.

Now laser technology has been widely used in “marking, welding, cutting, drilling, heat- treatment,precision trimmers,precision  counterweight” etc. This paper will introduce mainly  laser marking, laser welding, laser cutting ,which are used usually in automobile industry.

1 Laser marking in automobile industry

As the biggest application area in laser processing, laser marking technology with its irreplaceable advantage replaced traditional skills: pneumatic marking,chemical corrosion marking, screen printing marking, molding marking, it becomes the mainly marking way in industry manufacture area.    

Laser marking technology has following advantages

a.Forever: mark will not disappear as time or surrounding changed, and the mark is difficult to imitate or change, it has strong security functions. So laser marking way has relatively obvious advantage in automobile industry area which has strict traceability. 

b.Non-touched processing: the energy vector of laser marking is the beam with consistent  wavelength, it will not generate any mechanical stress when beam irradiate on the surface of workpiece, it will not influence mechanical character of material, it remove also chemical and noise pollution. 

c.Strong adaptability: it can mark on most metal and non-metallic material, for it is controlled intelligently by computer, laser marking equipment can adjust quickly marking content, including bar code, dimensional code etc., for example, laser marking software which was developed autonomously by Wuhan HG laser can not only jump number automatically(including regular and irregular), but also generate automatically bar code. In addition, it support also dimensional code technology like DataMatrix、PDF417、QR Code etc. And it is compatible with a variety of file formats generated by graphics software, which provide great convenience for flexible processing, even if product changed, laser equipment can be continued used, there is no need to reinvest

d.Marking effect is extremely fine: minimum diameter of  light spot can reach 0.01mm or even smaller after focusing, so marking effect is extremely fine.

e.Low operation cost: though the investment of laser equipment is lager than translational marking equipment, but laser marking has quick speed, small consumption, it is easy to automatically manage; it need’t general consume materials, as long as laser machine work normally can it continued process in long time. Taken together, comparing with traditional marking ways  laser marking has huge advantages in aspect of cost and technical benefits.

In automobile components manufacture area, laser marking technology has already can be used in any areas that need to be marked, metal components, non-metal components, even if auto glass, tire can realize laser marking(with picture).

Automobile button laser marking

Automobile air-condition knob marking

Not only in component area, in automobile OEMs and engine factory, the use of laser marking equipment is also extremely widely.

HG Laser automobile marking machine 

(As the manufacturer for the first domestic automobile special marking machine, Wuhan HG laser Co., Ltd. has already produced dozens of special marking equipment for many famous automobile companies’ production line and assembly workshop, including Dongfeng, it has totally replaced overseas similar equipment)

 2. Laser welding technology in automobile industry

It has been over 20 year that laser used in automobile component even whole automobile welding, in european and america states where automobile industry is extremely developed, laser marking has been a standard craft in the most advanced automobile manufacture craft.

Widely used in: automobile gear(including conjoined gear), automobile transmission, filters, automobile aircondition pulley, hydraulic tappets, ABS battery valve, airbag igniter, lithium batteries, fuel injectors, lights, sensors etc. Use of Laser welding in roofs, doors, boot, engine cover and other body parts is also very widely. 

Advantage of laser welding: 1. easily controlled and quick speed; 2. Without wire can also get high quality and high strength welding line; 3. Welding line has big ratio of depth and width, bright and beautiful; 4. high accuracy, strong repeatable operability, high yield; 5. because of quick welding speed, it has small heat conduction effect, tiny thermal deformation; 6. non-touched processing, non mechanical stress; 7. need’t consumption, low cost. 

Using laser welding technology can not only greatly reduce cost, but also improve greatly production efficiency and production quality. For example, laser welding make it become reality that automobile components use stamping craft, which must use casting craft before. So it reduced the weight of component, saved raw material; automobile transmission or transmission system gear set could be long before only finished when the whole material was processed by many mechanical processing ways and many procedures,it waste human, material and financial resources. Now many components suppliers in european and america developed countries put gear into many small parts, produce and process them separately, then use laser to weld them, in this way not only guarantee strength, but also accelerate production speed, simplify craft and save steel material.   

Experiment show that the strength of car body can improve at least 30% when using laser welding, which improve also the security of automobile; the automobile components that used laser welding can effectively decrease the size of components, which meet the development trend of components’ miniaturization.

At present, automobile industry is not developed in our country, laser welding technology has no been widely used, but it didn’t represent that our country’s laser welding technology has great gap with developed countries, our laser welding technology in automobile component was already very mature. 

3. Laser cutting technology in automobile industry

Laser cutting technology use high energy laser beam to irradiate on surface of workpiece, it makes irradiated area partly melted, vapored or phase changed, then it reached cutting purpose. Laser that has been focused by optical system has highly energy density in focal point, so that it can cut some material with high hardness, including hard alloy, even diamond. “cut iron drunk” is no longer story in legend, high technology makes it become reality.    

As marking and welding craft, laser cutting belong also to non-touched processing, there is no need to exert mechanical pressure on workpiece, workpiece is not easy to be changed, small heat affected zone, narrow cutting line(related to processed object’s material, thickness, laser power, cutting speed, positon of focus), good quality of cutting line, no need to process again. 

Automobile body use a large number of high-strength steel, if use mechanical cutting, tool will be serious damaged ; if use stamping cutting, abrasive tools will be damaged, as abrasive tool is damaged, the cutting quality decreased gradually; laser cutting can solve this problem, it can continuously work long time, and it reduce greatly production preparation period.   

Laser cutting technology combine with CNC technology improve greatly equipment’s use efficiency, put graph that need cutting into CNC system, it can cut steel in different position, no need to open mold separately, so that it offer huge convenience for workshop’s flexibility.

Conclusion

Three kinds of laser processing technology are introduced in this article, the three technologies run though the whole procedure of automobile manufacture, component manufacturer use many laser processing craft to improve production’s quality, the application of laser technology in vehicle manufacture is also popularized,. For example, automobile manufacture has four craft: stamping, welding, painting, assembling, laser technology play a important role in stamping, welding and assembling, it brings huge economic benefits for automobile manufacturer.  

Automobile industry develop very fast, the development of new energy automobile will greatly change existing automobile manufacture craft. Petrol engine, fuel supply system, including gearbox will be replaced by new power system. New power system require new processing way to match it. All industry experts believe that laser technology will continue play a leading role! As the unique undertaker of national scientific and technological projects support program’s laser project, HG Laser will continue to focus on technology advancement, and make its own contribution for the automotive industry.

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