Under the influence of climate change, the automotive industry is increasingly looking focusing on the development and production of electric cars. Demand for CO2 reduction encourages lightweight designs and alternatives to old fuels, making green mobility possible.
This trend offers AWL the opportunity to apply its many years of experience in the field of solutions for automated connections to new products, such as batteries and battery frames for cars and their components. These battery frames are large structures containing the individual battery modules which are the power source for electric vehicles.
AWL is preparing for these new demands and questions. For example, the battery box must be lightweight but be particularly strong and compact to prevent the risk of leakage or fire during an accident. In addition, the batteries must be produced in large numbers.
For a customer, AWL developed a machine to produce parts of a battery frame. This frame consists of a combination of forged aluminum parts and extruded aluminum profiles. Laser welding was the correct process for these parts. The variable distance between the parts to be welded was an additional challenge. Considering the materials used and possible inconsistent distances between the individual parts, it quickly became clear that an additional cold wire was needed for a stable welding process. Because of the low heat input and the required clean weld without spatters, laser welding was the only option. After implementation, we showed our customer that we could bridge the varying distances without changing the welding parameters. That produced a reliable welding process and good weld quality.
Besides battery frames, we also exploit opportunities in the field of battery technology. For example, we build machines for the laser welding of rechargeable batteries for autonomous vehicles and electric cars. These smart high-tech machines connect the aluminum poles of all battery cells in the battery module. Aluminum is an excellent electrical conductor and therefore a logical choice, but it is not really suitable for welding activities. Minimal heat input and an accurate and qualitative weld are vitally important, which is what makes the laser solution so distinctive. We have the very best means to control the laser welding process. Thanks to laser welding, it is possible to weld battery cells very accurately. This is important in avoiding mistakes around cells.
When the weight of a car drops, CO2 emissions decrease. A good way to reduce the weight of a car is by using aluminum sheets in the body, chassis and doors. Demand for solutions for joining aluminum is therefore expected to increase. AWL is preparing for this development by continuously investing in research for the spot and laser welding of aluminum.
Resistance welding and laser welding are promising techniques for connecting innovative steel materials. Spot welding is promising because the technique is widely used in the automotive industry. Laser welding is successful because of the high speed.
Besides quality, safety is vitally important. AWL’s in-depth knowledge in the field of laser welding provides evident added value here too. If the temperature is too high, the battery cells may ignite. Thanks to laser welding, however, we can weld locally with minimal heat input. AWL has experienced with test systems that ensure the safe application of the product.