Auburn Hills, Michigan – Technology that validates laser welds as they join parts could increase efficiency, streamline quality checks, and minimize waste in automotive seat production. Seat structures producer Brose Group and fiber laser producer IPG Photonics are partnering to develop inline coherent imaging (ICI) technology to achieve that.
“Projects like this with leading technology providers allow Brose to incorporate the most advanced production processes, such as direct weld measurement, and help us continue advancing new breakthroughs in seat structures,” said Stefan Krug, chief operating officer, Brose North America.
ICI increases manufacturing efficiency through simplified validation by tracking weld seams to detect surface irregularities. It replaces an indirect measurement approach that requires a one-hour validation process that pauses production.
“Our patented, in-line welding monitoring tools provide the most comprehensive and direct measurement of key manufacturing characteristics including weld depth, part fit-up, and seam position,” said Trevor Ness, IPG Photonics senior vice president of sales and marketing.
After piloting the technology in its London, Ontario, facility, Brose plans to integrate weld cells into several manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and Europe, with production set to begin early 2020.
Brose plans to invest more than $6 million by 2022 to develop the technology. As part of this project, Brose and IPG Photonics will study and analyze ICI generated performance data including penetration measurements, surface irregularities, seam tracking, and the technical availability of the equipment.