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At the European Automotive Laser Application Show in February, Trumpf introduced new concepts for the use of lasers in the automotive industry.

Many manufacturers are debating whether to continue using their lamp-pumped solid-state lasers or replace them with diode-pumped disk lasers and diode lasers.

Lamp-pumped lasers have been used for welding, cutting and soldering car bodies for about 10 years.

‘While lamp-pumped solid-state lasers demonstrate about three per cent efficiency, Trumpf Trudisk lasers achieve more than 25 per cent and the Trumpf Trudiode more than 35 per cent,’ explained Ruediger Brockmann, automotive manager at Trumpf Laser Systems.

‘The possible savings in electricity usage alone are immense and could amount to several tens of thousands of Euros per laser per year for a three-shift operation.

‘The cost benefits are also preserved if you include the investment costs for the laser and accessories.

‘Whether the disk or diode laser is better technology depends on the needs of the customer.

‘Disk lasers have somewhat higher energy costs due to their lower efficiency in comparison with diode lasers.

‘However, the disk laser is the more flexible tool because it can be used not only for deep welding and soldering, but also for remote welding and cutting,’ he added.

The comprehensive platform of laser-beam sources that Trumpf provides allows the company to work closely with customers to offer the best laser solution for their application.

Klaus Loeffler, head of branch management at Trumpf Laser Systems, described the benefits of tube and profile design in automotive manufacturing over traditional laser welding and cutting.

‘It allows flange-free structures that can be manufactured and easily joined together using an interlocking feature.

‘No special equipment is needed to accurately join the tubes,’ he said.

In addition, special tube-bending technologies make it possible to reduce the number of parts needed to produce a structure.

This saves material costs and even the creation of three-dimensional structures is possible using this method.

‘The process chain for innovative design begins with tube welding, then laser cutting, bending, tube assembly and laser welding.

‘And the finished component is then sent just-in-time to the assembly line.

‘This formula can also be used for newly designed components without the need for additional tooling,’ added Klaus Loeffler.

Additionally, the laser results in considerable cost savings per component compared with conventional welding methods.

Together with the steel company Arcelormittal, Trumpf has investigated the effect of weld-seam geometries optimisation on the stability of advanced high-strength steel-based assemblies.

These steel grades are becoming more important in car-body construction because they demonstrate better crash properties at reduced weights and therefore comply with current challenges that are facing the automotive industry.

The Automotive Applications Research Centre at Arcelormittal has shown remote laser welding can produce the widest variety of seam geometries without having to sacrifice production times.

Resistance spot welding does not offer this freedom.

The results of the study speak in favour of the laser as an excellent complementary welding tool for high tensile steels, with C- or S- shapes producing the best stability.

TECHNOLOGY THAT KEEPS YOU AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION

Remaining profitable today is a challenge and staying competitive in the future requires solutions that can adapt to your every-changing business needs. The technology built into TRUMPF precision machinery gives fabricators the flexibility to increase the efficiency of their high-quality, close-tolerance part production – in small batches or high volume jobs.

TRUMPF ranks among the world's leading manufacturers of production technology and industrial lasers. Technical solutions for its customers have been the company's focus since 1923. In every technology group TRUMPF machines are designed to minimise unit costs and to provide reliability and a rapid return on investment.

All machines are designed to accept flexible and expandable automation. The choices range from simple productivity gains from features such as automatic laser nozzle exchange through to all the elements necessary for full lights out production.

In the field of CO2 and solid state production lasers the TRUMPF product spectrum is now unparalleled and its experience extends from OEM systems to small hand-manipulation processing stations through to large 5-axis machines. It has competence at any level of power from 2W to 20kW.

The production processes for which TRUMPF lasers are designed are numerous and include welding, cutting, drilling, tube processing, surface treatment, additive manufacturing and component marking.

TRUMPF punching is much more than simply making holes. The TruPunch range of machines provides complete part processing – including forming – and virtually eliminates the need for secondary processing. And in its TruMatic series these benefits are combined with laser cutting; the best of both worlds.

The TRUMPF TruBend press brakes use patented technology to ensure that the bending angle is precise, right from the start and can handle small, complex or single components cost efficiently. Completing the main technology groups are the TRUMPF TruTool range of power and pneumatic portable fabrication equipment.

Under the umbrella of TruServices TRUMPF provides a highly comprehensive range of business services to support its customers. This starts with finance – TRUMPF operates its own bank – and includes full software support both at machine and business level. A wide range of predictive maintenance and service packages are also available as is application and product specific training.

With TRUMPF nothing is left to chance. In every aspect of its business, customers can be assured of quality and exceptionally value for money.

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