Fiber Laser Ablation in the Automotive Industry

Use of fiber lasers in the automotive industry

The increasing use of fiber lasers is simply due to the variety of impressive benefits that can be gained from the use of this technology. Fiber lasers and their applications offer a lot of flexibility along with improved quality of work. Needless to say, this results in greater levels of productivity, as well as better profit margins as greater efficiencies can be captured by utilising the full efficiency of a fiber laser.

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Fiber lasers are widely used today in the automotive industry for its benefits

Fiber lasers are often used in the automotive industry for ablation. This is the removal of certain materials from metal surfaces in order to prepare them for industrial processes. Fiber laser ablation provides a greater level of accuracy and speed, while saving costs, due to lower energy requirements to execute the task. Let’s take a quick look at the main areas of application for fiber lasers in the automotive industry.

 

Surface Modification through the use of heat

Ablation on a component to modify its surface is carried out using a fiber laser beam that scans the surface of the component. Contrary to traditional methods of heating using a furnace or a flame, this is a much cleaner process with far greater accuracy. The use of a fiber laser beam to heat the surface of a component also results in reduced time taken to complete the job. The automotive industry has embraced fiber lasers for surface modification, keeping in mind these considerations.

No need for additional cleaning

  • The use of fiber lasers results in better cleanliness with no need to wash the components in order to clean them after the heat treatment is over

Environmental advantages

  • The cold mass of the material automatically absorbs the heat through conduction and the cleaned surface is instantly hardened, with no further processes required
  • Lower power input and energy savings result from a targeted and precise process over a small area, with no need to heat the surrounding areas. Apart from this, there is no further machining of the component required to smoothen the treated surface, which also results in further energy savings

 

Flexibility

  • The use of lenses allows the laser to be directed over a very small area with great precision (as low as 30 micron spot size) and works well for components of all shapes and sizes, including areas that are normally inaccessible. The process works well for mass treatment of components as well as specialised individual work.

 

Other advantages

The use of fiber lasers is a non-contact process, saving costly downtime, replacement parts and chemicals costs and is easy to integrate into most automotive manufacturing facilities.

Fiber lasers are great for machining automobile body components like this.

Fiber lasers are great for machining automobile body components like this.

 

Connecting rod scribing

Fiber lasers can be used to cut a line by removing material, onto connecting rods of the engine, popularly known as con rods. Before the introduction of this technology, automobile companies used to machine the rod separately and measure it to prepare it to fit a matched pair. Once the matched pair was in place, the connecting rods were expected to have a high tolerance.

However, this process required separate machining operations, after which measurement was required. With the fiber laser scribing process, the lasers scribe lines on the rod, on each side of the opening and then the con rod is split into two and a pair created that is simply bolted back together. The use of this technology has reduced the cost of operations and made the process simpler for automobile companies.

 

Advantages of laser scribing using fiber lasers

The biggest advantage in using fiber lasers during scribing is that it is an automated process with no contact at all. Tool wear and tear is avoided due to the lack of contact, which results in no downtime and translates into savings for the automobile manufacturer. The residual debris when cutting is removed by the air assisted cutting head. The depth of the groove can be increased by boosting the power of the laser or slowing down the speed.

 

Get in touch with us for the right lasers for your operations

SPI Lasers is an internationally reputed fiber laser manufacturer with operations in 150 countries worldwide. We cater to a number of industries, including automotive, electronics, aerospace, dental, jewellery and scientific, to name a few. If you are a supplier of components to the automotive industry and are looking for the right industrial solution for your business, you’ve come to the right place. Call to speak with our fiber laser experts or simply contact us online.

 

Image credits: European Space Agency and SPE Automotive

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