GF Machining Solutions gives talk on laser texturing at 2014 Automotive Cockpits Conference

Laser surface treatment machine tools and automation solutions provider GF Machining Solutions was one of 12 companies asked to present on the latest products and technology developments for vehicle interior manufacturing at the 14th Annual Automotive Cockpits Conference.

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Lincolnshire, IL - Laser surface treatment machine tools and automation solutions provider GF Machining Solutions was one of 12 companies asked to present on the latest products and technology developments for vehicle interior manufacturing at the 14th Annual Automotive Cockpits Conference. The event, which was hosted by the ITB Group, a consulting firm that serves the global automotive market, took place Oct. 3, 2014, in Birmingham, MI.

Surface texture, an important aspect of product design within the automotive industry, was a key topic of discussion at the conference, and one that Chad Hase, the company's laser project manager, addressed in great detail.

Manufacturers of vehicle interior components, such as dashboards, steering wheels, and instrument panels, have traditionally relied on chemical etching to produce surface textures on these parts. However, advanced laser texturing technology, as discussed by Hase, is rapidly becoming the preferred method for surface texturing, as it is faster, quieter, and more repeatable, flexible, and environmentally friendly than chemical etching. Laser texturing technology uses pulsed fiber-optic lasers of varying strengths and a variety of lenses with different focal lengths to sublimate material, or turn it directly from a solid to gas.

In fact, with laser texturing, automotive part manufacturers are able to produce 2D and 3D details from a high-quality digital image, allowing completely reproducible results for specific textures, engravings, marks, or labels. This opens the door for greater legal protection of innovative designs. The lack of repeatable results with chemical etching renders the process unable to create textures that manufacturers could submit for patent protection. Laser texturing overcomes this hurdle, allowing manufacturers to create and protect surfaces that result in a unique appearance and feel in the final product.

The company's laser texturing machines offering consists of the LASER 600, LASER 1000, LASER 1200, and LASER 4000, covering maximum workpiece dimensions that range from 5.9 × 5.9 × 5.9 in. to 98.4 × 59 × 35.4 in. While all of these models are available as 5-axis machines, the LASER 600 and LASER 1000 also come in 3-axis versions.

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