PI: Ceglarek and Franciosa
Budget: £875k, funded by InnovateUK/HVM Catapult
Remote laser welding (RLW) is emerging as a promising joining technology (one of the Key Enabling Technologies) in vehicle manufacturing. By having laser optics embedded into the robot and a scanning mirror head as the end-effector, RLW can easily create joints in different locations of the product through simple robot repositioning and/or laser beam redirection from a remote distance. In essence, RLW takes advantage of three main characteristics of laser welding: non-contact, single-sided joining technology, and high power beam capable of creating a joint in a fraction of a second.
While industry is using RLW processes for assembly of steel automotive body, RLW’s applications for joining aluminium panels have yet to move beyond experimental setups (TRL 3-4-5). This is mostly due to the following challenges:
- Weldability of aluminium (hot cracking and weld solidification cracking)
- Adaptive control
- Weld quality monitoring
- Root cause diagnosis of weld defects
- Quality improvement
The goal of this project is to develop, implement and pilot in industry RLW process for aluminium door structure assembly. To overcome the main challenges the project will develop a closed-loop in-process control scheme and apply it for RLW process for aluminium door assembly. This aim targets a critical area where maximum lightweighting benefit can be obtained.
This is a collaborative RTD project initially with JLR and Stadco (UK SME). Stadco is a tier-1 supplier of stamped parts and subassemblies for JLR.