More process control during laser-based CFRP processing

Caption figure 1: The laser cutting process with a robot enables a flexible processing of 3D parts. (Photo: LZH)

Caption figure 2: The precisely adjustable ablation depth allows for different processing techniques: Scarfed structures are required for the complex repair preparation of composite materials, surfaces can be pre-treated for gluing processes. (Photo: LZH)

Sustainability and the - closely related – efficient use of resources have been an important aim in the field of production for some time. In automotive and aviation industry, the economical use of resources can be achieved by consequently reducing the vehicle weight. Therefore, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has been developing different lightweight construction technologies for many years. Now, further manufacturing technologies for carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) shall become ready for series production through automation and process control.

Parts made of CFRP are especially well suited for the automotive and aviation industry, because they not only enable a significant weight reduction. In addition, this material has a very high strength and stiffness. However, since the processing of this material requires a lot of expertise, it is so far, apart from the aviation industry, mainly used in sports cars and small series automobiles. In the future, not only larger series shall be possible, but also the cost-efficient production of individual parts shall be promoted. Therefore, the LZH is working on optimizing the process control in various projects.

Flexible processing with new handling systems
The Composites Group of the Production and Systems Department of the LZH is developing new processes for the flexible and automated processing of CFRP and glass fiber reinforced plastics (GFRP). Here, the use of industrial robots and multi-axis systems combined with novel laser beam sources enables the individual processing of 3D parts and large-scale semi-finished parts – both for cutting and ablation as well as for welding.

Besides the flexible processing of different parts, the process control is another important aspect. For example during laser transmission welding, different techniques are used for the temperature-based process control in order to achieve a constant high quality of the welding result. Also for the cutting of composite components various temperature control methods are used to optimize the process and to guarantee a constant processing quality. When removing defective areas as preparation for repair, it is necessary to do this step by step. Here too, the LZH is working on processes for a reliable machining.

At the Hannover Messe, the LZH is presenting the latest developments for the laser processing of carbon fiber reinforced plastics. Visit us at the Pavilion of the State of Lower Saxony in hall 2 at stand A08!

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Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH)

As an independent, non-profit research institute, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) stands for innovative research, development and consulting. The LZH is supported by the Lower Saxony Ministry for Economics, Labour and Transport and is dedicated to the selfless promotion of applied research in the field of photonics and laser technology. Founded in 1986, over 170 employees are now working for the LZH.

The focus of the LZH lies on the fields of optical components and systems, optical production technologies, and biomedical photonics. Interdisciplinary cooperation between natural scientists and mechanical engineers makes innovative approaches to challenges from the most different areas possible: from the development of components for specific laser systems to process developments for the most diverse laser applications, for example for medical technology or lightweight construction in the automotive sector. Seventeen spin off companies have emerged from the LZH up to now. Thus, the LZH has created a strong transfer between fundamental science, application oriented research, and industry.