25 September 2007

Laser penetration welding of chute channels with Jenoptik-VOTAN™ W

Safety has top priority in the automotive industry, as even a minute defect can cost lives. Therefore a uniform high level of quality must be maintained with all safety-relevant parts and no compromises be allowed. When chute channels for airbag systems in instrument panels are welded, the quality of the weld determines whether the airbag will fire properly or not. The laser welding system Jenoptik-VOTAN™ W Classic not only produces strong high grade welds but it also consistently ensures uniform quality due to exact process monitoring.

Laser welding has been used in the automotive sector for more than a decade because it has a number of advantages over conventional methods. Laser technology is extremely flexible and suitable for a wide range of materials. Particular advantages are also the exact, vibration-free application of energy and the exact monitoring of the welding processes.

In comparison with ultrasonic and vibration welding, laser penetration welding is a method which does not stress the material. The Jenoptik-VOTAN™ W Classic uses this technology and therefore enables the careful welding of airbag chute channels on instrument panel carriers. The pre-weakened airbag line is not damaged and the instrument panel not deformed. The system has a robot-guided welding head with a 210 W laser. After the instrument panel has been loaded manually and the chute channel put in place, the robot moves along the weld contour and joins both parts. During the same machine cycle a further two parts can be welded. This is a strong advantage of the Jenoptik-VOTAN™ W Classic because in conventional welding two machines are needed to carry out this task.

The exact melt temperature of the plastic material is measured by a pyrometer sensor integrated in the welding head and the laser power adapted accordingly. Exact process monitoring ensures uniform quality and strength of all welds this is of particular importance in the case of safety-relevant parts in cars and other vehicles.

In addition to these strong technical advantages, the Jenoptik-VOTAN™ W Classic has more to offer. The low life-cycle costs are due to the almost maintenance free laser, and therefore make it a cost-saving and efficient system, which could be a solution even for small runs.

The laser welding system complements the product portfolio of Jenoptik Automatisierungstechnik GmbH: Whilst systems of the Jenoptik-VOTAN™ A product family generate invisible lines of pre-weakening for airbags, the Jenoptik-VOTAN™ C systems takes care of trimming the edges of instrument panels and the Jenoptik-VOTAN™ W Classic is ideal for welding chute and air channels as well as plastic gate solutions and knee airbag TPE plates on instrument panels.

Thus, Jenoptik Automatisierungstechnik supplies the complete range of laser systems for processing plastic materials of instrument panels. Furthermore, during the workflow of an automotive manufacturer, welding the chute channel is normally the step directly following the laser perforation of the instrument panel. Therefore it follows that both steps should be combined in one system to save manual work. Jenoptik Automatisierungstechnik GmbH offers the perfect solution a combination system for laser welding and laser perforation and proves that it is an innovative company which offers flexible and forward looking technologies.

Contact: Birk Ploennigs

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