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IPG Photonics and Brose developing auto part laser-welding

13 Aug 2019

First direct weld method for car seat components; increases manufacturing efficiency.

Fiber laser giant IPG Photonics and automotive components developer Brose are collaborating on a project to develop what they call “the first direct weld measurement technology for automotive seat rails.”

The partners add that, “In-line Coherent Imaging (ICI) technology will increase manufacturing efficiency, streamline validation and minimize waste.” After piloting the state-of-the-art welding technology in its London, Ontario, Canada, facility, Brose will integrate new weld cells into several manufacturing facilities in the US and Europe, with production set to begin early 2020.

Brose is one of the world's largest family-owned automotive suppliers. It develops and produces mechatronic systems for vehicle doors and seats as well as electric motors, drives and electronics, among others for steering, brakes, transmissions and engine cooling. More than 26,000 employees at 63 locations worldwide generate €6.3 billion in sales. Every other new vehicle worldwide is equipped with at least one Brose product.

“Projects like this with leading technology providers allow Brose to incorporate the most advanced production processes, such as direct weld measurement, and help us continue advancing new breakthroughs in seat structures,” said Stefan Krug, COO at Brose North America. “This differentiator allows us to remain an industry leader while, ultimately, increasing our customer's confidence and satisfaction with our products."

ICI is considered to be a sophisticated welding technology due to its ability to increase manufacturing efficiency through simplified validation. The process also tracks seams to detect surface irregularities and ensure weld quality. It replaces an indirect measurement approach that requires a one-hour validation process that pauses production.

Seat rails

Trevor Ness, IPG Photonics’ SVP WW Sales & Marketing, added, “Our patented, in-line welding monitoring tools provide the most comprehensive and direct measurement of key manufacturing characteristics including weld depth, part fit-up and seam position. Our laser depth monitoring technology will work with Brose to support its production of the highest quality seat rails available to consumers."

Brose plans to invest more than $6 million by 2022 to develop this technology. As part of this project, Brose and IPG Photonics will study and analyze ICI-generated performance data including penetration measurements, surface irregularities, seam tracking and the technical availability of the equipment.

The joint project will help inform further manufacturing efficiencies, consumer safety and performance enhancements to improve the overall quality of products reaching consumers in the marketplace.

Brose is a leader in mechatronics and a major manufacturer of seat structures for the global automotive industry. In 2018, the company produced more than 80 million seat rails globally and expects to manufacture more than 105 million annually by 2024.

IPG Photonics is a leading producer of high-power fiber lasers and amplifiers used primarily in materials processing and other diverse applications. The company's mission is "to make its fiber laser technology the tool of choice in mass production."

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