The field of joining technologies at MATERIALS is still strongly influenced by the automotive industries. One main area is the laser welding of gear parts and drive components, which is characterized by the regional automotive suppliers. MATERIALS has initiated the implementation of this key technology at “Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik” (now MAGNA powertrain) and other small and medium enterprises. Requirements on this technology have continuously increased during the last 20 years. Especially in the field of “dissimilar welding”, which describes the joining of different materials, large progress was achieved, e.g., in the laser welding of steel to cast iron. The challenge in welding of such joints is the required use of filler material, which is added via a rod into the weld pool. The respective process development and transfer into serial production is much more sophisticated than “classical” laser welding, which does not require filler material.
Due to the ever increasing requirements concerning engine smootheness, noise reduction and miniaturization even laser welding often reaches its technological limits. Demands on further reduction of warping and on the joining of dissimilar materials require continuous improvement of laser welding processes. This means a further reduction of energy input to achieve reduction of welding-induced inherent stress and warping. Modern laser sources like disk and fibre lasers open new possibilities that will considerably change the entire production flow.
Modern disk lasers enable an efficient technology transfer. Based on our concepts and process development Magna Powertrain has established its line of laser welding units. The development of the welding process, from the geometrical adaptions of the components to the welding of test parts, prototypes and pre-series was done at our site in Niklasdorf.
In the meantime MATERIALS operates two disk lasers (3 and 6 kW) in combination with modern laser optics (scanner and bifocal optics) and small beam diameters down to 100 µm, which can be used for so-called fine welding, which means the joining of filigree components (e.g., electronics). The challenge in fine welding is an often complex geometry of the weld path in combination with lowest energy input, which is only feasible using special scanner optics. An example is the welding of the electrical contacts of battery packs for e-cars, which has been successfully developed by our experts for Samsung SDI Battery systems (formerly MAGNA E-Car Systems).