Millimeter-Precise Drive

The SSpeed welding module forms the core part of the system. The laser cell is visible in the center. (Source: Andritz-Soutec)

The SSpeed welding module forms the core part of the system. The laser cell is visible in the center. (Source: Andritz-Soutec)

In the plant control of its latest laser welding system, Andritz-Soutec relies on the high- performance motion control system from Siemens. Short cycle times, flying optics and large axis quantities have led to drastically increased productivity.

To comply with international regulations designed to reduce carbon emissions, the automotive industry is spearheading new methods such as lightweight construction and the use of high- strength, low-weight materials. This is the reason for the ever increasing importance attached to the use of sheet steel tailored blanks. As a method of reducing weight, single sheet metal blanks with different thicknesses, strengths and surface coatings are joined using laser welding technology and are then formed into the required bodywork component by methods such as deep drawing. The use of these tailored blanks eliminates the need for additional reinforcement and overlapped connections in the car bodywork.

High-performance technology for high production output

Andritz-Soutec has developed a high-productivity laser welding plant for the manufacturers of these custom car bodywork components whose control system involves the use of Siemens technology: more precisely, the Simotion D455-2 Motion Control system for applications entailing short cycle times and large axis quantity frameworks. This system is capable of controlling fifty fast- moving axes and an additional twenty virtual axes with a 2-millisecond control cycle. Taking care of safety functions is the CPU Simatic S7-319F: the entire plant runs over Profinet and its safety functions are compliant with the Profisafe protocol. A Panel PC IPC677C and two mobile panels are used for monitoring.

The individual blanks are correctly positioned with the aid of a vacuum suction unit. The red circle marks a sensor for recording the position. (Source: Andritz-Soutec)

The individual blanks are correctly positioned with the aid of a vacuum suction unit. The red circle marks a sensor for recording the position. (Source: Andritz-Soutec)

Production in the plant takes place in four stages: at the de-stacker, the individual blanks are correctly pre-positioned on the production belt with the aid of a vacuum suction unit. In the positioning unit, the blanks to be welded are precisely aligned. The pre-assembled blanks then undergo laser welding, during which the laser beam is moved to within +/- 0.02 millimeters of the correct position at the welded edge by a specially developed positioning process. In the downstream treatment unit, the finished welded parts can be flipped and any required beads applied before being transported by the belt into the stacker unit. (Source: Siemens)

Links: Laser welding systems, ANDRITZ Soutec AG, Neftenbach, SwitzerlandMotion Control System SIMOTION, Siemens Automation Technology, Siemens AG, Munich, Germany

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