Since its invention in the 1960s, the laser has been serving a multitude of industries. From aerospace applications to the medical field, the laser has opened up new possibilities for manufacturing improvements when it comes to making complex, lightweight parts. Through laser etching and welding, manufacturers have developed low-cost, highly efficient ways to produce parts using the technology.
In particular, the automotive industry has embraced laser manufacturing for its benefits. Allowing for flexibility to augment parts while still providing the consistency for mass production, the laser has found an ideal role in automotive manufacturing.
When compared to traditional methods of manufacturing, such as stamping, using a laser alternative is a more economical decision. And in today’s market that is constantly trying to reduce automobile weight and increase fuel efficiency, laser manufacturing is becoming even more prevalent as parts can be easily produced using thinner dimensions of lighter weight materials. As more companies move away from using steel components and replacing them with lightweight, aluminum counterparts, more manufacturers are looking to the benefits laser welding and cutting has when working with these lightweight materials.
Utilizing lasers in automotive production helps to drive down maintenance costs. For example, just one laser welding head can perform all of the welds that would have required 10 welding guns using traditional methods. Not only is there less equipment to worry about keeping running efficiently, by replacing traditional welding gun with one laser welding head it helps to cut down on the facility’s CO2 emissions, making it easier to meet global CO2 emission standards.
With the development of new materials like boron steel, it has opened the door for new possibilities in automotive manufacturing using lasers, and many in the industry are embracing the technology. In fact, there is not one area in the production of an automobile that does not have a laser application. Other applications lasers serve in the automotive industry include their use in the brazing and soldering of surface components, as well as in welding powertrain components of the engine.
Already one of the largest users of the technology for manufacturing, as improvements in production increase along with the technology, there are a number of applications that the laser could see more use in, including their use in the development of fuel cells and batteries. Whether lasers are used in manufacturing the car itself or even just to cut the key to start its engine, today there is no modern vehicle on the street that has not been manufactured in some part using lasers.