Visitors to the production facility of Heckler & Koch in Oberndorf, Germany, could hardly fail to notice how many different generations of machines still operate within the densely populated manufacturing area. This is a testimony to the traditional craftsmanship methods of machining and manufacturing carried out by the company over the years. However, with the continuous development of new products together with changes in materials and customers' requirements, Heckler & Koch have sought out new manufacturing processes. This is clearly demonstrated by the two solid-state lasers from Rofin that are used to perform a variety of functions, including welding the recently developed magazines for the HK416 and the British SA80 assault rifle.
A requirement to improve the reliability, durability, and therefore service life of the magazines, under difficult conditions such as heat and dust, led to the development of a new high-precision magazine with extremely tight manufacturing tolerances.
Since as far back as 2001, Heckler & Koch have used a Rofin lamp-pumped solid-state CW series laser with 2500 watt output power to weld magazines. However when a new high volume order was received, additional capacity was required to meet the new production demands. Tests by Rofin in their application laboratory in Hamburg quickly proved that a diode-pumped disc laser with 1500 watt output power would meet the stringent requirements for shorter cycle times, improved weld seam quality and low heat input. The Rofin DS 015 HQ laser was subsequently delivered and installed and has been in full production since January 2009. Today over 50,000 laser welded magazines leave the Heckler & Koch factory every month.
Thankfully, even in this turbulent world, the majority of bullets are still fired in training areas, and the enhanced quality and durability of these high-precision, laser welded magazines has quickly become apparent.
Heckler & Koch's original CW025 lamp-pumped laser is still in production and it is mainly used to weld and harden pistol magazines. When it is not being used for production purposes, experienced Heckler & Koch engineers spend time researching and developing new applications, in keeping with Heckler & Koch's philosophy of combining craftsmanship with technology.