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Remote Laser Welding Navigator for Aluminium Structures

05 Jan 2018

WMG is leading the Remote Laser Welding (RLW) Navigator for Aluminium Door Structures project, along with four industrial partners, including Jaguar Land Rover and I-Rob (a UK SME). The programme has developed a portfolio of novel software solutions to enable rapid deployment of RLW technology for aluminium door structures, taking it from new concept readiness to application readiness with the intention of reaching production implementation readiness. The main barriers to adopting RLW for aluminium structures are the lack of methodologies for precise and effective planning and simulation of its application, leading to time-consuming and expensive trial-and-error procedures. Some of the challenges include: (i) weldability of aluminium (hot cracking, porosity); (ii) adaptive control of process due to variation-induced errors; (iii) weld quality monitoring.

The RLW Navigator solutions provide a range of new capabilities for closed-loop in-process (CLIP) control such as:

1. Controlled heat flow in and around melting pot to prevent hot cracking and porosity.

2. Control of seam tracking and part-to-part gap variation through automatic selection and adjustment of key process parameters to prevent weld quality defects.

3. Real-time monitoring of multiple key quality indicators.

4. Intelligent defect root cause diagnosis and automatic quality improvement for preventive and corrective actions.

The resulting simulation technology provides the capability to create a precise digital twin of a RLW enabled aluminium door. The digital twin is based on a novel CLIP adaptive control.

The results from the RLW Navigator for aluminium structures led to the first digitally developed automotive aluminium door in the UK being piloted by JLR. RLW for aluminium doors is shown to have numerous benefits, for example, accelerate adoption of new product design, reduce vehicle weight, propel productivity (up to 5x faster and with 50% less floor space than Self-Pierce Riveting), reduce production costs, produce multiple products on a single line, and increase driver visibility thereby improving safety. In addition, the RLW approach is more robust than incumbent laser welding methods – 50% less thermal distortion compared with tactile laser welding; 10% stronger welds; and capability for in-process quality monitoring.

Find out more about this project and the Digital Lifecycle Management research group at: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/research/manufacturing/

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