Munich, Germany - The buzz at this year’s version of Lasers in Manufacturing (LIM-5), held in conjunction with Laser 2005, was mostly about remote welding. Driven by automotive industry interests, remote welding, where a laser is located away from the processing point, with its beam directed to the joint to be welded by some optical means, offers automakers a new concept for body-in-white assembly. So it was not a surprise to find several companies showing remote welding concepts among the many exhibitors in the Production Engineering hall at the Munich Messe.
One that attracted our attention was the LWS-Remote Laser Workstation from SITEC Industrietechnologie GmbH (Chemnitz, Germany). The company showed a prototype of a highly dynamic beam guiding system for remote welding with CO2 lasers with enhanced beam quality. Jointly developed by SITEC with the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tool and Metal Forming Technology (Chemnitz) and Metron GmbH (Chemnitz), this innovative solution, using parallel kinematics to ensure focal point acceleration of greater than 600 m/s2, produces extremely fast point-to-point movements.
This allows high efficiency in laser welding of large sized components in many configurable weld segments. Combined with rotary indexing tables, pallet changers, and/or transfer systems for load/unload of parts, this system becomes a highly flexible processing tool.
The unit shown had a working envelope of 2800 x 1500 x 6590 mm; large enough to handle a variety of automotive components. A beam swivel range of ± 30º, a focal length up to 1600 mm, and an accuracy of ± 0.1 mm allow welding speeds of 20 m/min to be accomplished.
The unit we saw was arranged for CO2 laser power but the company told us that they are considering use of other lasers including a new fiber laser supplied by PrenovaTec GmbH (www.prenovatec.com; Meiningen, Germany).
SITEC has been a builder of special assembly machines for many years. The 160-employee company builds both standard and custom laser systems for welding and ECM machines for milling. The LWS shown in Munich sells for € 150,000 not including the laser.
For more information on the LWS, access SITEC’s Website www.sitec-chemnitz.de. - DAB