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Germany’s First Electric Car Factory Sets New Standards

Germany’s First Electric Car Factory Sets New Standards

The world’s largest car manufacturer is getting ready for the future. Over the next few years, Volkswagen will make a radical transition to e-mobility, and the Volkswagen plant in Zwickau, Germany, will play a key role in this process. With the ID.3 model, the blueprint for the new generation of electric cars is being created here. And the bending experts from Bystronic are also on board. Article by Stefan Jermann, Bystronic.

Much of what happens in the automotive industry goes on behind closed doors. This includes the realignment of the manufacturers towards e-mobility. But when German Chancellor Angela Merkel herself fires the starting signal for the production of the new Volkswagen ID.3, everything is already very much in the open. This was the case in Zwickau, Germany, where the production lines for what could be the most ambitious current project in the entire automotive industry kicked into motion.

The ID.3 is more than just a new model; this new electric car embodies the future of Volkswagen and is intended to usher in a new era. The group has set itself the objective of becoming the leading global manufacturer of e-vehicles. And this mission is being pursued with a vengeance. With investments of €1.2 billion, Volkswagen wants to turn Zwickau into the home of Europe’s largest e-mobility factory. This year, more than 330,000 electric cars are scheduled to roll off the production line—a total of six models from the Volkswagen, Audi, and Seat brands.

Platform for the Whole Family

So far, sales of electric cars have been sluggish. The ID.3 is designed to change this—thanks to an attractive price of below €30,000, rapid charging capability, and a range of up to 550km. Jürgen Stackmann, a member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, promises, “The size of a Golf on the outside, the space of a Passat on the inside, and the acceleration of a GTI.” 

The ID.3, the first model in the ID. family, forms the basis for a zero-emission generation of vehicles. The modular electric drive matrix—MEB for short—offers the necessary scalability from the compact car to the bus. By 2022, it will be incorporated in 27 models of four Group brands. The “ID.R Pikes Peak” prototype has already proven that the sky is the limit. On June 24, 2018, at the mountain race in the United States bearing the same name, the supercar with its 680-horsepower electric four-wheel drive made motor racing history and beat the previous record set by rally legend Sebastien Loeb by a large margin. This sports car will remain a racetrack dream, but it shows in an impressive way what the ID family can achieve.

76-second Cycle Time

Kati Langer stands in Production Hall No. 12. She is inspecting the Xpert 40, which is connected to two Kuka robots in a production cell. The passionate Bystronic saleswoman, who has accompanied the ID.3 project with Volkswagen from the outset, is proud of the system. In order to seamlessly integrate the bending systems into Volkswagen’s workflows, we had to overcome a number of structural challenges,” she explains while we watch the two bending robots at work. 

The first robot removes the part from the container station and deposits it on the centring system. The second robot picks it up, swiftly feeds it to the bending machine, and performs the first of two bending steps. Then it returns the part to the centring system and the first robot completes the remaining bending steps. Subsequently, a stationary system welds two ball nuts to the part. The gripper then picks up the part and places it on the conveyor belt. 

The entire process takes exactly 76 sec. Watching the robots perform their bending sequences is a genuine delight. If you hadn’t seen it with your own eyes, you would hardly believe how elegantly and nimbly the two robots work hand in hand—or rather, gripper in gripper. Subsequently, the bent part is installed in the support structure of the chassis where it stabilizes the undercarriage. A second fully-automatic bending cell manufactures a component that is installed at the front of the car chassis.

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Laser Applications In The Production Of Li-Ion Battery Cells And Packs

Laser Applications in the Production of Li-Ion Battery Cells and Packs

The laser is at the center of many solutions when it comes to the global e-mobility trend. Here are a few examples of laser cutting applications in battery cell manufacturing and assembly. Article by Trumpf.

The worldwide mobility transition is in full swing. The demand for components for electric cars and alternative drives is rising continually. In particular, high-performance components directly involved in the production of batteries, electric motors and power electronics for electromobility are at the center. More and more companies, predominately automotive suppliers, are also demanding new manufacturing solutions and technologies for alternative drive concepts, including the fuel cell.

The laser is at the center of many solutions. It connects battery cells into modules or packs. It ensures tightness and crash safety when joining battery packs and trays. It scores highly thanks to its green wavelength when copper welding contact parts without spatter. And it provides high-tensile connections in e-drives, which withstand the highly dynamic requirements.

Manufacturing Battery Cells

Battery cell manufacturing is subdivided into electrode manufacturing and cell assembly. Electrode manufacturing requires a high variety of different process steps: mixing of the slurry, coating, drying, calendaring as well as shaping, folding and stacking of the coated electrode foil. Some of them required laser technology:

  • Micro structuring of the electrode surface with ultra-short pulse lasers, for example, reduces subsequently the charging time of battery cells.
  • Drying of electrodes with VCSEL laser technology to complement conventional drying ovens by reducing the footprint and increase efficiency.
  • Cutting and shaping of coated electrode foils with ns lasers into the required format, increasing quality and productivity. Common foil materials are aluminium (cathode) with a 5-14 µm thickness as well as copper (anode) with a thickness of 9-13 µm. Very often, these foils are coated. Cutting these foils with TruFiber laser sources enables burrs of less than 5 µm and HAZ of less than 40µm. 

In the cell assembly, the steps are contacting, packaging, formation, and aging. Laser technology is used here mainly in welding applications for the internal contacting of battery cell components and the closing of prismatic cell formats:

  • Green laser wavelength for the very defined and repeatable welding of copper materials.
  • High power IR lasers combined with Trumpf’s BrightLineWeld technology for spatter free welding of aluminium or copper materials.

Both laser applications enable the highest mechanical strength and lowest electrical resistance in welding of ≤100 foils together to a stack.

On the cell level, besides these different welding applications, there are also some upcoming laser applications for surface processing like cleaning, de-coating or micro structuring with short or ultra-short pulse lasers.

Process stability is a key factor in the battery cell production. Therefore, all these laser technologies have a direct impact on the efficiency and performance of the battery.

Battery Module Assembly

After the battery cell manufacturing process, the single cells will be assembled to a battery module. The electronics and battery pack assembly have an enormous variance of different module designs. But all are based on prismatic, pouch or cylindrical cell formats.

Laser technology is used in welding of busbars, meaning the electrical contacting of single cells to a battery module, or other current carrying components. Due to the enormous number of different designs, material combinations and thicknesses, the full TRUMPF laser portfolio in terms of power, wavelength, beam quality is applied.

  • Especially for thicker aluminium busbars with welding depths mostly >2 mm and welding speeds of minimum 100 mm per second, the TruDisk laser series with patented beam shaping technology BrightLineWeld is the best choice since every single weld must be exactly the same and spatter projections must be avoided.
  • For the welding of dissimilar material combination like Al/Cu or Al/steal, we mostly recommend single mode IR lasers with a very high beam quality e.g. you can use the TruFiber Series for such applications. These lasers create a very small intermetallic phase in the welding seam, which is important for a strong joint of materials with quite different melting temperatures. By using different welding patterns, you can join Al with Cu or even the other way around. Typically, by oscillating the laser beam with a scanner optic to increase the cross-section area. For the contacting of cylindrical cells, the sheet thicknesses are usually in the range 0.2 – 0.5mm, and many times dissimilar material combinations or with coatings.

For most of the installations in battery and module manufacturing, TRUMPF lasers, optics and sensors are integrated in automated high-volume production lines, while its TruLaser Station and TruLaser Cell series are suitable in small- and medium-production volumes.


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Helping You Address The New Electro-Mobility Challenge

Helping You Address The New Electro-Mobility Challenge

Marposs continues to enhance and upgrade its measurement and inspection solutions to ensure complete monitoring of the production processes of EV components.

Marposs offers different solutions for the measurement and control of electric vehicles

For almost 70 years, Marposs has been working side by side with customers to guarantee quality control in the mass production processes. The wide range of technologies and products available, together with a worldwide presence, have made Marposs the ideal partner for OEMs, first and second tiers, as well as machine tool makers operating in the automotive industry.

In times of great changes, Marposs is taking up the challenge to stay a strong reference for the automotive market in the e-mobility era. The traditional product lines are integrated with new technologies to provide a mix of gauging, inspection and testing solutions that ensure the complete monitoring of the production process of the main electric vehicle (EV) components. Marposs offers a full range of solutions for the control and optimisation of the various manufacturing steps, the quality control of individual components, up to the final assembly operations and functional check of any assembled system.

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Traditional sensing, probing and in-process gauging solutions for process control during machining, turning, milling, and grinding operations are combined with thermographic analysis systems for process control during die-casting operations, and machine vision techniques to detect defects and porosity on machined sealing surfaces.

Consolidated techniques for monitoring of cutting and stamping operations are implemented in EV optic for process control in the production of rotors stack and stators’ sheet metal, or in the manufacturing of rigid battery cell housing.

Non-contact gauging products based on confocal or interferometric technologies are applied for process control in the production of metallic and non-metallic thin films, typically used in the manufacturing of anodes and cathodes, as well as in quality control of multi-layer pouch battery cover films.

Wide Range of Measurement Solutions

The battery trays provide the structural support of the car itself and must be leak proof to avoid the entry of water from the outside in all conditions.

The wide range of Opto and Flex machines for flexible shaft measurement is enriched with solutions that integrate different technologies to control a greater range of components; from traditional crank-, cam- and gear- shaft, up to rotor-shaft and complete rotors. The product range of optical gauges is enriched with non-contact measuring solutions dedicated to the analysis of shape and size on other critical components such as hairpins.

Automatic assembly operations of electro-mechanical components, such as battery chargers and power electronics are combined with measurement and test systems, up to the complete end-of-line functional verification.

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Thanks to collaborations with companies specialising in the sector, Marposs can today offer a complete range of products and applications dedicated to the execution of functional tests on electric motors and their components. The use of advanced techniques such as insulation tests with partial discharge method on stators, in association with more consolidated methodologies such as SURGE and HI-POT test, ensure the possibility of detecting also the presence of latent defects that could generate failures during use, and therefore guarantee compliance with the highest quality standards that are required for the use of electric motors in the automotive sector.

The synergistic contribution of other companies of the group, with specific skills in the automation sector, allows then to transfer these controls from laboratory environments to mass production, with the in-line integration of automatic machines for the execution of End-of-Line testing, both on rotors and on stators and finished electric motors.

Strong Experience in Leak Testing

Last but not least, the strong experience in leak testing applications, integrating different technologies, always guarantees the selection of the best solution for one of the most crucial controls in the manufacturing of all components of an electrical powertrain, from battery cells to modules and packs, up to electric motors, power electronics and related refrigeration circuits.

Performing of leak testing becomes a particularly strategic issue when it must be applied to battery components.

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The verification of the perfect sealing of the battery cells is absolutely fundamental to prevent dangerous leakages of liquid electrolyte, but also to ensure their efficient operation over time, due to the high sensitivity to humidity of the active components in the lithium-ion cells. The extremely low acceptable leakage allowed on the cells requires the use of vacuum chamber techniques, using helium as a tracer gas. Marposs offers a wide range of applications in this area, from fully automatic machines for 100% control in mass production lines, to manual stations for off-line verification of the components declared rejected in the in-line control.

The application of these techniques on the finished cells can be particularly complex due to their total sealing. For this purpose, Marposs has developed new leak testing methods, which do not require the addition of any tracer gas inside the cell.

The leakage check is then equally strategic at the battery pack level, in order to prevent the entry of water and other contaminants, which could cause the short circuit of high voltage components. In this case, although the leakage levels required to ensure compliance with IP specifications are normally higher than the reject limits imposed for the cells, the execution of the test is complicated by the large size of the component to be tested and by its high deformability.

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Marposs is able to offer a complete range of solutions and technologies to choose from, according to the test specifications requested by the customer. From solutions in air (pressure decay or mass flow), moving on to global testing techniques with helium in accumulation chamber or in the vacuum chamber. Helium sniffing solutions are instead used whenever it is necessary to accurately identify the leak point, as for example in repair stations.

Equally important, finally, is the verification of the perfect seal on all the different parts of the refrigeration circuits, on whose efficiency the optimal thermal management of all the components of the battery pack depends.


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Hyundai Motor To Establish A Smart Mobility Innovation Centre In Singapore

Hyundai Motor To Establish A Smart Mobility Innovation Centre In Singapore

Hyundai Motor Company will establish a Hyundai Mobility Global Innovation Center in Singapore (HMGICs) to accelerate its innovation efforts and transformation into a smart mobility solution provider. With support from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), the new 28,000 sqm innovative lab will be located in Singapore’s Jurong Innovation District and is set to be completed in the second half of 2022.

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The lab will explore business ideas and technologies to revolutionise a value chain encompassing R&D, business and production for future mobility solutions and eventual expansion into global markets. Combining Hyundai’s open innovations efforts with Singapore’s fertile atmosphere, HMGICs will validate concepts including multi-modal mobility service.

The lab will also spearhead efforts to reach new markets and customers with cutting-edge technologies that will transform automotive R&D, production and sales. Combining AI, Internet of Things (IoT) and other advanced technologies, the lab will create a human-centred smart manufacturing platform that will be validated through a small pilot EV production facility.

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In conjunction with the platform, an innovative product development process and on-demand production system will be tested and proven. Hyundai also aims to study new methods of vehicle development conducive to smart manufacturing while further increasing use of virtual reality (VR) technology in the vehicle development process.

Furthermore, HMGICs will facilitate collaboration opportunities with competitive local partners and educational institutions such as the Nanyang Technological University by conducting joint projects to pursue open innovation.

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“The Hyundai Mobility Global Innovation Centre is an exciting addition to Singapore’s growing Mobility ecosystem. Its focus on innovative business concepts and the development of a smart manufacturing platform, leverages the research and innovation capabilities, and the value that Singapore provides to companies that want to develop, testbed and create new solutions for the world,” said Mr Tan Kong Hwee, Assistant Managing Director, EDB.

As part of its Smart Nation initiative to drive the adoption of digital innovation across industries, Singapore is actively fostering the use of digital technologies such as AI, digitalisation, and smart urban mobility. With a strong track record for open innovation, Singapore is an ideal location for Hyundai to test its innovative ideas such as HMGICs.


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NAP 2020 Drives Malaysia’s Automotive Sector

NAP 2020 Drives Malaysia’s Automotive Sector

The Malaysian government has launched the National Automotive Policy (NAP) 2020 which will contribute MYR 104.2 billion to the economy over the next decade as Malaysia aims to be the regional leader in the automotive sector. Three key technological elements are introduced in NAP 2020—Next Generation Vehicle, Mobility as a Service and Industrial Revolution 4.0. Furthermore, it will focus on three strategies—value chain development (enhancing competitiveness of domestic value chain), human capital development (developing local talent) as well as safety, environment and consumerism (promoting adoption of environmentally friendly technologies).

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“The proposed new Malaysian Vehicle Project will emphasise on research and development and incorporation of the latest technologies in order to be competitive in both domestic and global markets. New technology clusters as well as new expert workforce, especially in the field of automotive engineering would be developed consequently,” said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

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Accelerating the automotive sector will not only benefit car manufacturers, but also encourage development of new technologies that will complement other industrial sectors. “The technologies embedded within the car provide immense opportunities for related industrial sectors to break new grounds. Linkages to both upstream sectors such as steel, plastics and rubber and the downstream value chain demonstrate that the automotive industry is one of the most important and strategic contributors to the overall growth of the manufacturing sector,” he said.


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E-mobility, Additive Manufacturing Driving Growth In Metrology Sector

E-mobility, Additive Manufacturing Driving Growth in Metrology Sector

Daesuk Chung of ZEISS sat down with Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News to talk about the latest technology and manufacturing trends driving the metrology sector. Article by Stephen Las Marias.

Daesuk Chung is the regional sales manager for Asia Pacific, industrial metrology business group, at ZEISS. At the recent EMO Hannover 2019 event in Germany, Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News sat down with Chung to talk about the latest technology and manufacturing trends driving the metrology sector.

Tell us some of the technologies you are showcasing at the event.

Daesuk Chung (DC): We are actually celebrating the 100th year anniversary of our business division—IQS (Industrial Quality Solutions)—this year commemorating 100 years of the first measuring technology presented by ZEISS in an industry fair. At this year’s show, we have four different categories in our booth: first is the quality lab with our flexible bridge-type CMM solution PRISMO and new sensors.

Next, we have solutions for productivity, which is getting more and more important. We are presenting some concepts on how customers can reduce their cycle time in order to enhance their productivity. We have new machines designed for measuring—but we now understand that you need flexible solutions on the shop floor. We already have special machines designed for shop floors—but very often they have some limits in terms of measuring volumes, for instance, or there is not enough choice of different models; depending on the tolerance and measuring volume, customers have certain preferences. With our new concept and design, customers will have that flexibility.

Then, we have two sectors where we are showing our new strategic initiatives. In the past, we are only focused on bringing new products—we are a hardware-oriented company. We are now trying to be more of a solutions provider. You will see our offerings related to e-mobility solutions.

And that is a trend. Due to issues like climate change, and the Dieselgate scandal a few years ago, all of the car manufacturers now, especially in Germany, are strongly pursuing the concept of new-energy vehicles. Fuel cell cars, electric vehicles, for instance.

We are now collaborating with a lot of customers already who are manufacturing components for electrical engines, for instance. So far, not many metrology manufacturers have sufficient knowledge or experience about NEV market, but we do have from many reference projects in recent years. So, we are now showing concepts for those customers who are now entering that market; we are showing them examples and strategies in dealing with those special components.

Finally, additive manufacturing is another big trend in our industry, especially in the aerospace and medical sectors, where there is a need to bring customised products or solutions. These sectors are driving the need for additive manufacturing. But again, it’s a totally new process, and many manufacturers who are entering this segment don’t have enough experience. We are now capable of analysing the whole manufacturing processes and can suggest our customers what kind of solutions they need for whatever application they have. We have these solutions because of our wide range of portfolio and knowledge about every single step of manufacturing process.

With the e-mobility trend, how have the market requirements changed?

DC: On the one hand, many manufacturers and customers feel very unsure of the market situation in the coming years. Nobody can really predict how the market will change. Many people know that it will come, except for the real market size of electrical vehicles, for instance, and what will happen to conventional technology.

It does not mean that the number of cars with the combustion engines will not increase, the technology will stay and production will increase, but nobody can really predict.

At the moment, it is difficult to make any kind of forecast or prediction. But it will definitely come, many governments around the world started adapting regulations to put a lot of pressure on the industry, as well as introducing subsidies making the electric vehicles more attractive. Existing car OEMs who are only relying on combustion engines are now starting to enter into the NEV market, and they are all looking for new suppliers and technologies.

How different are the technology requirements?

DC: The way how they use the quality assurance tools, like the CMMS, is not different. But the truth is, we are now dealing with completely different components, so the parts that are built for the assembly of combustion engine and electric engine are completely different. While the machine usage is the same, there are more aspects that you have to consider. For instance, the hairpins inside the stator, which are very significant components of electric engines having a flexible structure and being coated with a sensitive lacquer layer and therefore create challenges for reliable tactile inspection. An automated ZEISS coordinate measuring machine, equipped with confocal light or laser triangulation optical sensor, is one option to accurately measure the shape and lacquer thickness. Another more manual, flexible tool is a standalone ZEISS optical fringe projection sensor or a ZEISS handheld laser scanner

In those kinds of special applications, you need a special sensor, a special software, or a special knowledge to solve those issues. That’s the basic concept of how we approach the customers.

From your perspective, what are the opportunities for growth in asia, and specifically, southeast asia?

DC: We are seeing that the positive economic growth in the past 10 years will now be unachievable, so everybody is a little bit worried about it, considering the trade war between China and the US; and the smaller trade war between Japan and South Korea in terms of the semiconductor segment. But for the Southeast Asian market, I am seeing big opportunities because with the trade war between China and the US, many companies who are producing their products in China are now planning now to move their production to some Southeast Asian countries. Vietnam, for example, is often being mentioned as the best alternative relocation site from China.

There are also other markets who are benefitting from this. That is why I am quite positive now of the business in Southeast Asia.

Are there industry segments that you expect to see high growth potential in the southeast asian market?

DC: The automotive sector, where we are quite strong already. We have countries like Thailand, where the market is still quite big; Vietnam brought its own brand—VinFast—this year, and we are also getting a lot of benefits from that.

In general, the automotive sector is one segment in which I expect a lot of growth in the future. But it is not the only sector that will have that potential; the aerospace sector is also quite growing, especially the MRO, where I see a big growth potential.

Medical is another sector that shouldn’t be neglected; still, maybe it is not as big as of the moment in Southeast Asia, but I expect strong growth in the coming years.

How will the additive manufacturing sector impact the metrology segment?

DC: The aerospace and medical industries—these are the two sectors that will have a big impact on additive manufacturing, because you need individual and flexible parts and manufacturing process to produce them. If we just take an example from the medical technology side, there is a growing demand for artificial implants due to ageing population in many industrial countries. Additive manufacturing can provide cost effective solution for individually customised solutions. In line with that is the growing demand for quality control of those parts produced on 3D printers. Many people only think about dimensional checks or digitise the surface freeform with a 3D scanner. But in reality, you have to start from the material itself—you have to do the internal inspection; you even have to control the quality of the metal powder. You have to use high-quality microscopes to analyse the real sizes of the powders, or the content of the powders, etc.; they all have to be inspected in detail. That is why we see a very big potential for additive manufacturing. I am very confident that we will get a lot of benefits from the developments in this sector.


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3D Printing The Future Of E-Mobility Tools

3D Printing The Future Of E-Mobility Tools

Leveraging proven Kennametal technologies. High precision RIQ reaming inserts, and KM4X adaptor for highest possible rigidity.

Kennametal has developed a 3D printed stator bore tool specifically designed to meet growing customer demand for lighter weight tooling solutions used to machine components for hybrid and electric vehicles.
E-mobility components are typically machined on smaller, low horsepower CNC machining centers that require lighter weight tooling solutions. Kennametal’s 3D printed stator bore tool weighs half that of the conventionally manufactured version, while still meeting accuracy, roundness, and surface finish requirements for aluminum motor body boring.

“The main bore, that houses the stator of an electric motor measures approximately 250 mm in diameter (9.84″) and approximately 400 mm (15.74″) in length, with a smaller bearing bore at the bottom,” said Harald Bruetting, Manager, Program Engineering. “When manufactured using conventional means, a reamer for this type of application would weigh more than 25 kilograms (55 lb.), far too heavy for the existing machine tool or for an operator working with the tool.”

Bruetting and Kennametal’s Solution Engineering Group turned to the company’s in-house additive manufacturing capabilities to 3D-print a strong but lightweight indexable tool, equipped with proven Kennametal technologies including fine adjustable RIQ reaming inserts for high precision finishing and a KM4X adaptor for maximum rigidity. The tool also features internal 3D printed cooling channels that help maximise productivity and tool life.

“By using metal powder bed 3D-printing together with finite element analysis software, we were able to design and build a tool that brought the moment of inertia very close to the spindle face, increasing its rigidity while meeting the customer’s weight restrictions,” said Werner Penkert, Manager, Future Solutions. “It is an excellent example of how Kennametal is using advanced manufacturing technology to help meet our customer’s unique challenges.”

Two versions of the tool were built, one with a carbon-fiber tube, the other using a 3D-printed metal tube. The results were impressive. The tool with the 3D printed tube weighed in at 10.7 kg (23.6 lb.) and the carbon fiber version at 9.5 kg (20.9 lb.), less than half of their conventional counterparts.


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The E-Mobility Roadmap: Speeding Up Tool Development With A High-Accuracy CMM

The E-Mobility Roadmap: Speeding Up Tool Development With A High-Accuracy CMM

The time saved on measurements helps MAPAL Dr. Kress KG develop innovative tool solutions even more quickly for trends that will play such a pivotal role in the future. Contributed by Carl Zeiss Pte Ltd.

These days, employees from the development department at MAPAL Dr. Kress KG generally know within an hour if new tools will offer the level of precision their customers require. Instead of having to wait days for a service provider to deliver the measurement results, the company started performing onsite measurements at the beginning of 2018.

With the high-precision coordinate measuring machine (CMM) ZEISS PRISMO ultra, MAPAL inspects the workpieces machined with the new tools it manufactures. The time saved on measurements helps this global company develop innovative tool solutions even more quickly for trends that will play such a pivotal role in the future like e-mobility.

With the high precision coordinate measuring machine ZEISS PRISMO ultra, MAPAL inspects in-house the workpieces machined with the new tools it manufactures and generally gets results within one hour.

With the high precision coordinate measuring machine ZEISS PRISMO ultra, MAPAL inspects in-house the workpieces machined with the new tools it manufactures and generally gets results within one hour.

How a Workpiece Ensures a Precise Tool

“We need extremely exact measurement results to develop high-precision, innovative tools and tool solutions,” says Dr. Dirk Sellmer, vice president of R&D at MAPAL. For years, the company had an external service provider measure its workpieces and tools. Seller compares MAPAL’s tools to “Lego blocks that are combined to create complex solutions.” To deliver these bespoke products to the customers more quickly, the company invested in an extremely precise CMM from ZEISS.

In January 2018, two employees began working with the ZEISS PRISMO ultra. Almost a year later, Sellmer has reached the conclusion, “The investment has paid off.” The measuring machine provided MAPAL with the necessary precision and was immediately running at full capacity. The two employees from the development department, who alternate between the measuring system and the production machines every two weeks, inspect the department’s tools on the CMM.

Most importantly, however, MAPAL employees measure workpieces that are machined in the development area with the company’s own tools, thereby determining the workpieces’ precision and stability under manufacturing conditions. Precision is on everyone’s mind because most MAPAL tools and tool solutions are used when components need to be machined with a very high level of accuracy.

The stator housing for an electric motor is one example of how MAPAL is successfully meeting its customers’ requirements. The challenge with this cast part is to create the primary, large-diameter borehole that runs through the entire component—all with an accuracy of just a few microns. For perpendicularity, the tolerance is just 30 microns (0.03mm) and, for coaxiality, 50 microns.

The Right Tool for Stator Housings

These are extremely narrow tolerances for such large boreholes. Yet, a closer look at the design of the electric motor illustrates why these stringent requirements are necessary. Take for example the permanent magnet synchronous motor, the most frequently used motor design in new energy vehicles (NEVs). The stator is the stationary component within the motor. Coils or copper wires known as hairpins are attached. These generate a current that creates a rotating magnetic field. The rotor is located within the stator and, thanks to its own constant magnetic field, follows the magnetic field of the stator. The three-phase current of the rotor causes it to rotate in synch with the magnetic field.

The rotor cannot move unless there is a gap between it and the stator. However, the rotor is subject to considerable magnetic resistance, which in turn reduces the magnetic flux density and with it the power of the motor. Thus, designers make this gap as narrow as possible.

To ensure that the manufacturing process does not compromise the component’s design, MAPAL offers its customers a high-precision tool which is also very light for its size.

First, a borehole is made in the cylinder for the stator housing. This means that a tool approximately 30cm long creates a hole in the outer die-cast layer of the housing. Then, the surface is carefully ground down. Tools for the highly precise machining of primary boreholes for stator housings have been part of MAPAL’s product portfolio for one-and-a-half years. And since not all housings are identical, these tools are customised for each customer.

On-site Measurements for Reduced Wait Times

Automotive manufacturers generally provide 10 to 30 housings that MAPAL must then machine with the corresponding tools in its testing area. The measurements performed after multiple rounds of machining serve as the basis for optimising the highly complex tool solutions in line with the customer’s needs.

Before purchasing their own CMM, MAPAL had an external service provider measure its workpieces and tools. However, the company’s measuring expenses rose significantly within the span of just 10 years. MAPAL increasingly manufactures the tools for its customers and takes on pre-series production. Numerous measurements are performed to ensure that the customer has all the information they require. The need for more measurements also increased outlay.

Yet as the company considered whether or not to invest in a CMM, it was not the costs that ultimately tilted the balance, but time.

“We used to have to wait two to three days for measuring results. This is no longer the case,” explains Sellmer. Now, these are generally available within an hour.

Since the employees performing measurements at MAPAL have also received metrology training, there are fewer artefacts. “Since our team also works with the machines used in production, they have a highly developed intuition and know, for example, where contaminants might have impacted the measurement result,” says Sellmer.

Moreover, the components are now clamped in the machining fixtures for measurements and measured on the company’s premises. This reduces potential artefacts caused by removing the workpieces from the fixtures or preclamping them. Another significant benefit for MAPAL is the ability to intermittently perform unplanned measurements, such as with thin-walled components like a stator housing. This way, the company can see how fixturing impacts machining.

Dr. Sellmer highlights yet another key advantage: the improved communication between engineers and technicians. They can now discuss the results at the measuring machine, rather than relying solely on measurement reports. And this promotes knowledge sharing. “We now achieve our goals significantly faster,” concludes Sellmer.



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TRUMPF Benefits From E-Mobility

TRUMPF Benefits From E-Mobility

The high-technology company TRUMPF is benefiting from the auto industry’s shift toward e-mobility. At the recent Automotive Photonics technology conference in Ditzingen, auto industry representatives presented the very latest e-mobility technologies and manufacturing methods.

One of TRUMPF’s key contributions is a new laser that is better suited to welding copper than any other laser – a key development driven by TRUMPF laser specialists as part of the company’s e-mobility strategy. Regarded as the most important material for conducting electricity, copper plays an essential role in the e-mobility sector. The new laser offers a more efficient means of welding copper for applications such as the high-power electronic systems used in electric cars. “The transition toward e-mobility offers some major opportunities for German industry,” said Christian Schmitz, head of the Laser Technology division at TRUMPF, at a press conference held during the technology conference. “The important thing now is to rapidly address the new areas of business and technology that are emerging from this structural transformation.” TRUMPF expects further growth for its own business as a result of the change in the automotive industry. The company’s sales of products and solutions that are channelled straight into e-mobility have doubled compared to figures for the previous year. “Twenty percent of our order intake from the auto industry is now coming from e-mobility – that’s twice as much as last year,” Schmitz said.

On top of the existing auto industry, plenty of other players are also entering the automotive market, including disruptive start-ups from all over the world, Chinese companies and new companies from various fields, predominantly in battery manufacturing. “We have the products, technologies and manufacturing expertise we need to equip all these companies with e-mobility solutions, both existing industry players and market newcomers. We already have development partnerships with traditional automakers, and we’ve been involved in the development process at key start-ups from the very beginning. In terms of up-and-coming companies from China, our years of technology experience have made us a sought-after partner in the field of battery manufacturing,” said Schmitz.


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