In the very competitive world of automotive production, there is very little room for error. The quality of the product and the speed with which it needs to be completed is at an all-time historical high. One of the ways the automakers can do this is by using laser cutting. Laser cutting is one of the best ways to ensure you will get precise quality cutting with clean edges with a very quick cycle-time. You can use laser cutting technology not only for cutting parts but also for welding, cladding, engraving and marking. Laser cutting is so versatile it is no wonder why it has become an essential tool in global automobile production.
How Does the Automotive Industry Benefit from Laser Cutting in Michigan?
- Laser cutting produces clean and perfect cuts requiring NO edge prep or finish.
- Synthetic materials are left with fused edges meaning no fringed edges.
- Laser cutting is very versatile, meaning it can process many different materials and contours.
Laser cutting produces clean and perfect cuts due to the high-density heat that the laser uses when cutting.
The laser cutter has a light wave at the wavelength of 10,000 nm. This energy is partially absorbed by the metal, creating a change in the molecular structure, allowing for precision cutting. Laser beam quality is also measured by the beam parameter product (BPP). Typically, CO2 lasers have a BPP of 8-9mm. This, in addition to the highly concentrated heat, is why the cuts are near perfect and the method is widely used in the automotive industry today.
Synthetic materials are left with fused edges meaning no fringed edges.
The automobile manufacturers use laser cutters because of the intense and highly focused heat that it produces that seals together the edges of cloth primarily used in sealing airbags. The automotive industry recommends laser cutting when sealing airbag covers because they make almost zero defects. Since we count on airbags to save our lives, this is an impressive rate.
Laser cutting is very versatile, meaning it can do many different materials and contours.
Because laser cutters have a CNC controlled cutting head, they can move to cut the contours as programmed into the machine. The automotive industry finds this an invaluable tool since it significantly lowers production time and creates a consistent part every time.
Laser cutting machines are relatively compact compared to other automotive manufacturing tools such as a stamping press.
One primary objective with the automotive industry is to maximize output per plant space required. Since the laser cutting machine is relatively compact compared to its throughput, its utilization becomes an important output-to-space efficacy for the auto manufacturers.
Laser cutting systems experience almost no downtime if maintained properly.
Laser-cutting machines cut costs for the automotive industry in a few different ways. First, if a standard predictive maintenance program is instituted, the machines can run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year for the life of the equipment. Needless to say, this maximization of output is critical in the highly competitive global automotive industry, thus saving both time and money for the OEM. Moreover, due to the laser’s highly precision cutting ability, few mistakes are experienced when cutting materials.
In the automotive community today, the need to process a part quickly, with a small footprint and almost no quality defects is imperative in this high competitive world. Therefore, lasers have become a popular manufacturing choice due to satisfying all of these challenging benchmarks.
Laser cutting is a non-contact manufacturing process which infuses very little heat into the material being processed.
Since lasers have a very high-power density and subsequently small heat affected zone while processing very quickly, it gives the material very little time to heat up. This is extremely important in order to NOT change the properties of the steel being processed. Many of the automotive metals are exotic in composition and tensile strength which makes it critical to create the slightest manufacturing effect possible. If the manufacturing process changes the property of the material, it could jeopardize the integrity of the product with regards to quality, safety and aesthetic appeal.
The laser cutting machine are an increasingly faster manufacturing process.
Laser cutting can now cut as fast as 40 meters per minute which allows it to compete with historically lower cost options such as cutting dies and punch presses. This change allows for great flexibility in the manufacturing process. Before lasers, tooling was very expensive and time-consuming to make and even more difficult to change. Because lasers are computer numerically controlled, it becomes very easy to change when necessary. The cost is minimal and the time to do so is negligible.
The automobile industry has increasingly utilized laser cutting technology over the years and will continue to do so as the industry progresses. Laser technology also will continue to evolve in the following ways:
- Faster processing time
- Lower system cost
- Smaller manufacturing footprint
- Greater flexibility and quality
While laser cutting technology has been around since 1965, the global automotive industry is finding more innovative ways to utilize its unique qualities.
Questions on laser cutting and metal fabrication services? Prototech Laser in Chesterfield MI are the experts. We are a national leader of full-service metal fabrication and laser cutting in Michigan, the Midwest, and beyond. Our manufacturing processes provide state of the art laser cutting, metal forming, machining, welding and assembly since 1990. Call and speak to an industry expert today.