Trends within the automotive sector mean that manufacture of battery components for electric vehicles has growing significance. Consequently laser-welded cell connectors for battery units will be seen at the Trumpf stand for the first time. Cell connections often mean creating a welded copper-aluminium joint, a complex process in which a layer of melted copper is infiltrated and pressed into the aluminium substrate. Laser technology can also be deployed to promote emission-free mobility, eg via the manufacture of bipolar plates for fuel-cell stacks, and cutting high-strength materials used to reduce component weight.
Eye-catching exhibits will include a deep-drawing tool for manufacturing B-columns for the body of a Volkswagen. A laser deposit welding technique is used to apply a hard protective wear-resistant coating to the surface of the tool. As a result, the mould can be cast in materials more commonly used in injection moulding, and cooling channels can be incorporated below its surface. This efficient solution optimises the solidification of the workpiece and reduces the cycle time per component, while at the same time significantly prolonging the life of the mould. This in turn reduces the consumption of raw materials and energy and minimises the process’s carbon footprint.
Another exhibit concerns the maintenance of safety-critical components, which normally have to be replaced as soon as the very first signs of wear are detected. Laser deposit welding permits the selective repair of areas of complex components most susceptible to damage, enabling, for instance, costly titanium turbine blades to be returned to service instead of being replaced. This efficient repair technique avoids the necessity of manufacturing new components from scratch, reducing the consumption of raw materials and the associated manufacturing costs.
Health sector applications
The TruSystem 7500 operating table system, manufactured using Trumpf machines, exemplifies the precision that can be achieved by laser processes, whilst highlighting the ecological advantages of deploying lasers throughout the design and manufacturing chain for sheet-metal components. Due to the limited extent of the melt pool and the low heat input associated with laser welding, the risk of distortion is significantly reduced by comparison with conventional techniques. As a result, there is seldom a need for reworking, and the weld seams are exceptionally robust. Moreover, laser processing systems fully comply with the strict hygiene regulations that apply in the health sector.
With sales totalling € 2.025 billion) and 8,550 employees (preliminary figures for the 2010/11 fiscal year), the Trumpf Group ranks among the leading manufacturing companies worldwide. Three business divisions - Machine Tools/Power Tools, Laser Technology/Electronics and Medical Technology - are combined under the umbrella of a holding company. Core business centres on machine tools for flexible sheet metal processing for punching and forming, laser processing and bending; and the company claims to be the global technology leader for industrial lasers and laser systems.