RobScan laser beam welder wins award

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Aachen, Germany–Dipl.-Ing. Bertold Hopf, Daimler AG, was presented the Innovation Award Laser Technology 2008 as representative of the RobScan project team. RobScan (robot-guided remote scanner) for laser beam welding is a new process developed for vehicle body construction by Hopf, Dr. Klaus Debschütz, and their project team within Daimler AG. Hopf was awarded the 10,000 Euro prize on May 8th here in the town hall.

The Innovation Award Laser Technology is a European research prize awarded by the association Arbeitskreis Lasertechnik e.V. and the European Laser Institute (ELI). The award can be conferred on an individual researcher or on an entire project group whose exceptional skills and dedicated work have led to an outstanding innovation in the field of laser technology.

The scientific and technological projects in question must center on the use of laser light in materials processing and the methods of producing such light, and must furthermore be of demonstrable commercial value to industry.

The innovation of the RobScan system is the combination of different hardware components and the Daimler-developed process technology and control software. It uses the known advantages of laser welding and extends them with new possibilities in process technology and a new control system to utilize all the possibilities of the remote scanner.

It was thus possible to increase the welding speed and improve the welding quality. The RobScan process combines the high speed and precision of scanner optics with the flexibility of a robot. The commercial value to the automotive industry has been convincingly demonstrated. The technological impact includes reduced manufacturing costs for body-in-white production; improved quality by better welding results, reduced flange width, and increased stiffness; decrease in cycle time by welding on the fly; improved quality assurance by use of a 100% online quality control system; and flexibility in production.

Hopf is head of material and production in the Technology Department of Daimler AG in Sindelfingen. Debschütz is head of materials, manufacturing concepts–body of Daimler’s Group Research in Ulm.

Prof. Reinhard Poprawe vice president of the association Arbeitskreis Lasertechnik AKL e.V. and director of Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, pointed out the dedicated work of the RobScan project team and the outstanding innovation in the field of laser technology.

The international jury selected on a basis of merit and according to the published assessment criteria (see www.innovation-award-laser.org) three innovation teams out of 15 applications as finalists. The other two finalists were: Rapid–high-power, high-repetition-rate picosecond laser for industrial high-end micromachining (team representative Dr. Achim Neble, managing director, Lumera Laser GmbH, Kaisersllautern) and Ultrafast laser for efficient industrial micromachining (team representative: Dr. Dirk Sutter, senior scientist, advanced R&D and product development manager, TRUMPF Laser GmbH + Co. KG, Schramberg).

All three applications have led to an outstanding innovation in the field of laser technology and are presented in detail at www.innovation-award-laser.org.

Vatican gets laser for fine arts restoration

Rome–Quanta System (Solbiate Olona, Varese; www.quantasystem.com) has donated to Pope Benedict XVI a laser for fine arts conservation. Professor Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, Professor Santamaria, director of the scientific laboratories, Professor Messelrath and Maestro De Luca, clara fama restorers, attended the donation ceremony held in April. His eminence Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, minister of the internal affairs and president of the Vatican City State Governorate, has received by the hands of Dr. Paolo Salvadeo, general manager of Quanta System, the laser on behalf of the Pope.

Thunder ART, as this laser has been named, will be used for restoring important masterpieces of Michelangelo in the Paoline Chapel. This system slightly differentiates itself from those already operative in the Holy See. Besides infrared and green, its ultraviolet rays will be experimented with and then used in restoration works of polychromatic surfaces, for example on paintings and frescoes.

The donation occurred only after the company has gained the trust of the Vatican Museums and of the whole Restoration Team, which for several years has been working with Quanta System machines and with lasers from El.En. Group, of which Quanta System is a member.

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