Laser plastic welding for the mobility of the future
Today’s mobility and powertrain concepts are in a state of disruption, especially in the automotive industry. Solutions are needed that meet the general trends towards reduced CO2 and pollutant emissions, higher traffic density and increasing digitalization. The focus is on developments for electric mobility, autonomous driving and efficient combustion engines. They are characterized by increasing system integration with additional functionalities, a rapidly rising proportion of E/E and mechatronic components and the demand for continuous reductions in installation space and weight.
As a material for these assemblies, plastics can ideally meet the new challenges. In terms of manufacturing processes, they offer excellent adaptability, so that the product design can be tailored perfectly to the respective application. Compared to systems made of metal, polymers also offer significant weight and cost reductions. These advantages are supported by ongoing developments in the field of high-performance plastics, which improve mechanical properties as well as temperature, media and chemical resistance. As a result, these materials are often no longer inferior to metals in terms of their properties, even in critical areas, and are therefore increasingly replacing them.
Typical areas of application for the use of plastics in new mobility solutions are, for example, electromechanical and hydraulic actuators, hoses and components for battery cooling, battery carriers and a wide variety of housings for control units and power electronics. In the field of internal combustion engines, there is also an increasing number of highly integrated systems in the area of thermal management, such as valve modules, electrical water pumps and fluid pipes, as well as in exhaust gas aftertreatment, such as components for SCR systems to improve engine efficiency and emission behavior.
Laser plastic welding offers numerous advantages, especially in the above-mentioned applications, and there is often no alternative to other welding processes. Its strengths come into play especially where high thightness requirements, cleanliness and a mechanically gentle energy input are important. It is therefore ideal for joining components in fluid handling, such as quick connectors and manifolds, or for the welding of housings of sensitive mechatronic assemblies. Furthermore, it is very flexible with regard to the weld seam geometry and, if the joining interface is cleverly designed, it doesn’t limit the freedom of design significantly. Together with excellent process control options, it thus makes a significant contribution to meeting the increasing demands for weight reduction, denser packaging and increased cost efficiency in future mobility solutions.