How Fiber Lasers Support the Breakthrough of e-mobility
Fiber lasers are already playing an important role in the breakthrough of e-mobility and will continue to do so into the future. Fiber lasers are in demand for their precision, speed, ease and diversity of use – amongst other qualities. Undoubtedly, a major benefit of fiber lasers is their versatility, they can be used for a wide variety of applications.
What is the breakthrough of e-mobility?
Fiber lasers are supporting the breakthrough in e-mobility, but what is this breakthrough exactly?
As taken from our definition article – “E-mobility (is an abbreviation of electro mobility) and is a general term used to describe the principles and concepts of utilising electric powered technologies (e.g. drivetrains). E-mobility moves away from existing carbon emitting fossil fuels to using energy from electrical power sources (e.g. the National Grid) through external charging capability.”
So, the breakthrough is a move away from ICE (internal combustion engines) to electric powered vehicles. This is happening and it’s real, there is a switch to green-friendly electric vehicles, which is happening now in automotive and will happen in the future in aviation and aerospace.
Fiber laser applications
It would be impractical to cover every single e-mobility application of fiber lasers here, but this page gives an overview and we will add more as time progresses. We have created a section for each main application area provided by SPI Lasers.
Ablation and cleaning
Ablation is typically used as either a pre or post manufacturing process to either prepare a material or tidy up a material after processing. Examples include:
- Battery cells – laser cleaning of battery cells
- General use – ablation and cleaning can be used to clean-up material surfaces at any stage in the manufacturing process
- Hairpin ablation in electric motors – this ablation is necessary, prior to welding
- Trimming edges – ablation can be used to trim edges from various processes, e.g. cutting, additive manufacturing, drilling and welding
Barriers facing e-mobility breakthrough
There are some barriers to the adoption of e-mobility, which are listed below:
- Batteries – advancements are needed, particularly to extend battery single charge range
- Electricity availability – in some countries, the availability of electricity is a barrier
- New e-vehicles cost – the cost of new e-vehicles are too high
- Lack of charging infrastructure – an infrastructure to charge e-vehicles is needed
- Lack of charging speed – the time taken to charge
- Lack of knowledge – consumers sometimes don’t understand e-mobility enough to buy
- Lack of trust – consumers do not yet entirely trust e-mobility technology
- Used e-vehicles market – difficulty in selling due to technology obsolescence
The adoption of 3D printing and additive manufacturing will be used widely in e-mobility, particularly in “light weighting” and use of various lower weight materials such as aluminium, CFRP and titanium. Examples of applications include:
- Rapid prototyping:
- Country variants – the ability to quickly develop country variant models
- R&D – the production of prototypes for research and development purposes
- Short production runs – producing models in low-production volumes, this is especially likely to suit luxury manufacturers
- Limited editions – improved efficiency when manufacturing limited editions
- Parts and components – think of an electric vehicle component and it can be potentially 3D printed. Various carbon compounds, metals, etc. could be used! Examples of items which could be 3D printed include, parts and components, tyres, vehicle frame, wheel trims and much more!
- Tools – a variety of tools to support manufacturing processes can be 3D printed
Cutting is extensively used in e-mobility, just a few examples of applications include:
- Battery foils – cutting of (typically) aluminium or copper partially coated, partially bare foils
- Parts and components – cutting parts and components in electric vehicles as is already the case in ICE vehicles
- Stator plates – the cutting of stator plates in electric motors to the precise specifications needed
Laser drilling is extensive in any electric vehicle production. The fiber laser is simply programmed to drill whatever sized hole is needed. Examples include:
- Cooling holes – the drilling of cooling holes is often achieved through fiber laser drilling
- General use – drilling of various shapes and sizes is needed. From those invisible to the naked eye sized holes, to very large holes as well as different levels of depths. A fiber laser can drill to whatever specification is required
- Metal electrodes for batteries – with absolute precision, electrodes can be drilled into batteries for electric vehicles
Engraving and Marking
As with existing ICE vehicles, there will be many engraving and marking applications within the e-mobility industry. Some examples include:
- Night & Day marking – most frequently on dashboard components is a particularly common application
- Parts marking – the marking of various information on parts as required
- Security information – the addition of information for security purposes on any component within an electric vehicle
- Serial numbers – the addition of serial numbers, which could either be engraved or marked
- VIN (vehicle identification number) – addition of the VIN, which would be deep engraved
An SPI Lasers video demonstrating deep engraving with a pulsed fiber laser
Fiber laser welding is an application that is already extensively used in e-mobility projects. Examples of welding applications used include:
- Airbag initiators – laser welding of the initiators for vehicle airbags
- Batteries – the laser welding of battery housings and connection of battery cells
- Differentials – laser welding in the creation of electric differentials
- Dissimilar metal welding – the welding of metals, which naturally resist each other (e.g. copper and aluminium), will be commonplace in e-mobility vehicles
- Doors and roofs – as with ICE vehicles, lasers will be used for welding main body parts such as doors and roofs onto the vehicle
- Hairpin welding in electric motors – the laser welding of terminal copper wires
SPI Lasers commitment to e-mobility
SPI Lasers are fully committed to e-mobility and the revolution it will bring to vehicle production across the world. We will be investing in R&D in the years to come to offer innovative, cutting-edge fiber laser solutions for the benefit of our customers.
Image Credits: Joe Nomias
SPI Lasers embracing the breakthrough of e-mobility in society
E-mobility requires adoption and embracing by multiple parties including government, manufacturers, customers and other parties. As leading fiber laser manufacturers of Pulsed and Continuous Wave fiber laser models, SPI Lasers embrace e-mobility and all its potential. Contact us to explore how we can help your organisation to deliver on e-mobility solutions and help to reduce your carbon footprint.
REGISTER FOR UPDATES
If you enjoyed reading this article, why not register for future articles?