Products and solutions Sep 11, 2001 2:00 AM
Patented bodymaking developments
Krupp Drauz Ingenieurbetrieb GmbH, part of ThyssenKrupp Automotive`s Systems/Suspensions business unit, has developed two innovative solutions to enhance quality and output in autobody manufacture. Both developments - a new laser welding and fixturing system and a modular sheet metal part stacker for transfer presses - have been patented.
The new laser welding and fixturing system significantly broadens the applications of laser welding in automotive bodymaking. Lasers offer numerous technical advantages over conventional spot welding such as higher welding speeds and smaller weld flanges. But to date there have been restrictions on the use of lasers to weld the galvanized sheets used nowadays for the complete autobody. The main problem is that the zinc has a lower melting point than the steel substrate; during laser welding the coating evaporates and makes the weld porous.
The problem can be solved by leaving a 0.1 millimeter gap between the sheets to allow the zinc vapor to escape, but the precision fixturing and high-speed welding equipment this calls for was unavailable prior to Krupp Drauz Ingenieurbetrieb`s new development.
The new combined welding and fixturing head for industrial robots has two rollers to press the upper and lower sheets together. A key new feature is the upper roller, which is designed as a hollow tapered roller through the middle of which the laser beam is guided. The second innovation is a so-called gas venting wheel, which keeps the sheets at exactly the required distance apart to allow the zinc gas to escape. The modular system can be adapted for a variety of weld shapes and offers welding speeds up to five meters per minute.
A new modular sheet metal part stacker developed by Krupp Drauz Ingenieurbetrieb promises to improve the productivity of transfer presses. The system can handle stampings leaving the press line at a rate of up to 25 per minute and stack them in standard logistics containers. For the first time it is now possible to automate an operation which, depending on part size, previously occupied one or two workers in order to meet the required speeds. The stacker comprises a part-specific magazine at the exit from the transfer press and a handling robot which can pick up several stampings simultaneously and deposit them in the containers. Krupp Drauz Ingenieurbetrieb`s new system allows the effective stroke rate - a key indicator of press productivity - to be increased by around ten percent.
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