Automotive Industry

The automobile sector is currently in a state of upheaval, with e-mobility and autonomous driving dominating the public and business debates. At the same time, the question remains as to how fuel consumption and weight, especially for hybrid vehicles, can be further reduced. Fraunhofer ILT has been working with partners from the automotive industry for decades and can provide attractive solutions in the production as well as equipping of new motor vehicles. For lightweight construction, the institute has developed many manufacturing processes, such as the welding of ultra-high-strength steels and composite materials, the laser-assisted local softening of cold-pressed steels to optimize forming technology, the cutting of CFRP components or the joining of dissimilar lightweight materials.

Vehicle engineering requires individual metallic and non-metallic components for new approaches in designing prototypes and developing process chains in series production, all in a very short period time. For this purpose, Fraunhofer ILT has been developing high-performance 3D printing processes for many years, such as Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF). Its developments range from material technology and process development to the design of production lines.

Furthermore, Fraunhofer ILT is developing new concepts of packaging power electronics and battery technology for the prospective e-mobility market. These range from packaging individual cells to designing modules all the way to manufacturing complete batteries. Key areas in which ILT’s scientists are supporting automotive engineering can be found in design, process development, and design of battery manufacturing and power module manufacturing systems. In addition, Fraunhofer ILT has been commissioned, in the field of lighting technology, with modeling new optical systems for car headlights and developing compact LIDAR systems.

Laser joining process for metal-plastic composites

Multi-material roof bow: At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris this March, Fraunhofer LBF and ILT will use this exhibition piece to demonstrate how costs and process time can be reduced for an automotive component.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.

Multi-material roof bow: At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris this March, Fraunhofer LBF and ILT will use this exhibition piece to demonstrate how costs and process time can be reduced for an automotive component.

In automobile construction, lightweight hybrid components made from fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) and metal are becoming increasingly important. To work on such components, Fraunhofer ILT is developing laser processes that optimally preserve the specific properties of the materials and their advantages – such as outstanding mechanical properties or good corrosion resistance. A fully automatic joining process for metal and thermoplastic fiber-plastic composites can reduce the processing time and production costs, for example, in the mass production of automobile bodies. This can be demonstrated by a manufactured roof bow, a connecting element for B-pillars in automobiles, made of a fiber-reinforced plastic brace and metal connecting sheets. As an alternative to the bonding and riveting previously used, the institute is employing a new, laser-based joining process that connects plastic and metal with positive locking and adhesion. Process times can be reduced by 70 percent and raw material costs by 45 percent compared to conventional processes.

Laser bonding for flexible, robust contacting

Contacted battery pack from 18650 cells.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.

Contacted battery pack from 18650 cells.

As automobiles become increasingly powered by electric motors, the demand for efficient energy storage systems will grow. In view of this, Fraunhofer ILT is developing and implementing efficient laser-based processes for the entire process chain to produce energy storage systems – from producing cells to contacting battery modules and packs. A particularly advantageous technology, laser bonding makes it possible to run joining processes with a high degree of automation and high process stability, but also to reduce manufacturing times. In several research projects, the institute is developing and assembling laser bonders that, for example, can join metal strips made of aluminum or copper using a laser-beam welding process. In comparison to ultrasonic bonding, this new laser-based technology can process larger-sized ribbon geometries and transmit high-currents with less loss and more securely via the connections thus created.

For this purpose, a wire bonder has been combined with a fiber laser, a galvanometric scanner, and a beam guiding and focusing unit so that aluminum or copper ribbons of up to 300 x 2000 μm2 in cross-section can be welded to battery posts using local power modulation.

Project Results 2017

Project Results 2016

Here you will find a selection of current collaborative projects

“ADIR”

Next generation urban mining - Automated disassembly, separation and recovery of valuable materials from electronic equipment

“AMable”

Support for the uptake of Additive Manufacturing

“futureAM”

Next Generation Additive Manufacturing

“CeGlaFlex”

Process Chain for Form-Flexible Ceramic and Glass-Based Switching and Display Elements

“INSPIRE”

Interferometric Distance Sensor System with Autonomous Subsystems for High-Precision Inline Measurements to Control Automated Manufacturing Processes

“ComMUnion”

Net-shape joining technology to manufacture 3D multi-materials components based on metal alloys and thermoplastic composites

“ProLMD”

Process and System Technology for Hybrid Production of Large Components with Laser Material Deposition (LMD)

“EVEREST”

Development of Intelligent Process and System Technology for Extreme High-Speed Laser Material Deposition

“TriboLas-3D”

Process Development for the Laser-Based Production of Site-Selective Tribological Layer Systems on 3D Surfaces

“FlexHyJoin”

Flexible Production Cell for Hybrid Joining

“ultraSURFACE”

Ultra Dynamic Optical Systems for High Throughput Laser Surface Processing

Contact

Dipl.-Ing. Hans-Dieter Hoffmann

“Lasers and Optics”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-206
-> Send E-Mail

 

Dr.-Ing. Arnold Gillner

“Ablation and Joining”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-148
-> Send E-Mail

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Johannes Henrich Schleifenbaum

“Additive Manufacturing
and Functional Layers”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-398
-> Send E-Mail

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Reinhard Noll

“Measurement Technology
and EUV Sources”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-138
-> Send E-Mail