Assembly in Action / Automotive Assembly / Columns / Welding Assembly

German Automaker Discovers Dual Duty for Diode Lasers

February 4, 2013
Trans

The automobile industry’s use of lasers to build cars increases every year. In the 1970s, lasers began being used on underbodies. Since the 1980s, lasers have been used for gear parts and air-bag and engine components. About 20 years ago, lasers began to be used for brazing.

Laser brazing produces joints that are aesthetically pleasing. Initially, the brazing process was performed with fiber-coupled, lamp-pumped Nd: YAG lasers. Volkswagen, for example, used a 4-kilowatt YAG laser to braze zinc-coated steel roof joints on the Touran multipurpose vehicle at its Wolfsburg, Germany, plant.

But in 2001, the company began using diode lasers to braze the tailgate of its Audi model A3. Several years later, Volkswagen decided to try using diode lasers to braze the Touran roof joints. The company hoped to improve productivity without compromising joint quality. At the time, the YAG laser performed brazing at a speed of 2.4 meters per minute.

The company replaced the YAG laser with a 6-kilowatt LDF 6000-100 diode laser made by Laserline GmbH. The diode laser has a 3.2-millimeter-diameter beam focus, and a tactile brazing head with CuSi3 filler wire that optimizes the beam.

By using the diode laser, Volkswagen has increased its brazing speed to 4.4 meters per minute and reduced edge notches by 75 percent. The diode laser achieves this through its flat-top beam profile, which has smooth edges and provides better distribution of laser power into the joint.

As a result, Volkswagen replaced all YAG lasers on the Touran production line with LDF 6000-100 diode lasers. The company then did the same on its Touran production lines at plants in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Anting, China.

Next, Volkswagen looked to increase its use of diode lasers. In 2009, the company began using the Laserline LDF 4000-40 diode laser to weld visible aluminum surfaces on its Audi vehicles. To increase cost-effectiveness, Volkswagen uses the same type of welding equipment it uses for brazing, but adds AISi filler wire (using tactile seam tracking optics) to prevent hot cracking of the weld.

Volkswagen is very happy with the results. The diode laser generates a Class A weld on 1.2-millimeter-thick aluminum sheets that is smooth, visually appealing and requires no post-processing. Weld speed is 3 meters per minute. The reliability and cost advantages of using diode lasers has resulted in Volkswagen using them in many additional aluminum welding applications at Audi plants.

LDF diode lasers are available in fiber lengths of 10 meters to more than 100 meters, and they have a wavelength range of 900 to 1,070 nanometers. Their operational temperature is 10 to 45 C, and their storage temperature is 5 to 65 C.

The lasers offer 15,000 watts of power and have a footprint that’s less than 1 square meter. They can be easily moved to different locations whenever required and connected by a single person.

Besides brazing and welding aluminum, the lasers can be used for cladding and heat treatment.

For more information on diode lasers, call 408-834-4660 or visit www.laserline-inc.com.
 

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Assembly Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Behind the Scenes at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant

People are the heart and soul of the 2012 Assembly Plant of the Year. This slideshow shows some of the men and women who build three different types of electrified vehicles alongside traditional gas-powered cars on the auto industry’s most flexible assembly line—Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, MI. Photos courtesy Ford Motor Co.

Podcasts

Live from The Assembly Show, the hosts of Manufacturing Revival Radio sit down with Adam Malofsky, Ph.D., president and CEO of Bioformix to discuss his company’s innovative, energy-saving adhesives and polymers, which cure without the need for heat or light. 

More Podcasts

THE MAGAZINE

Assembly Magazine

april assembly cover

2014 April

The 2014 April Assembly includes a cover story about robots and small manufacturers plus much more. Check it out today!
Table Of Contents Subscribe

Immigration Reform

Could immigration reform benefit U.S. manufacturers?
View Results Poll Archive

THE ASSEMBLY MAGAZINE STORE

welding.gif
Welding: Principles & Practices

This text introduces students to a solid background in the basic principles and practices of welding.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Assembly Showrooms

ASSEMBLY Showrooms

STAY CONNECTED

facebook_40px twitter_40px  youtube_40pxlinkedin_40px