Cost-effective alternative to laser-assisted sheet metal processing

Conduction and induction heat can be used as an alternative to the laser beam for heating and processing large component areas.

Economical sheet metal processing of high-performance materials using local conduction and induction

From Feasibility Test to Production Readiness

When high-strength steel or brittle aluminum is used in sheet metal processing, high process forces are generated in conventional cutting or forming operations such as flange forming. This often leads to rapid tool wear and inadequate component quality. There is therefore a demand for alternative technologies capable of processing high-strength sheet materials economically.

The Fraunhofer IPT integrates different heating technologies into the manufacturing process, enhancing conventional production processes for high-performance materials. Localized heating of the metals extends the process limits for forming high-strength steels or aluminum alloys by temporarily reducing the yield strength of the material and allowing it to be processed under lower process forces.

Local heating of high-performance materials in sheet metal processing

The potential of localized laser heating is demonstrated in sheet metal processing. Alternative heating methods such as heating by electrical resistance (conduction) or by induction also open up fields of application in which the laser cannot be used. The heating technologies can be modularly integrated into existing production systems and are characterized by low investment costs and heating times of only a few seconds.

Electrical resistance heating

Electrical resistance heating enables the cross section of sheets with thicknesses of several millimeters to be heated swiftly. The flow of an electric current heats up the entire thickness of the sheet material. The advantages of this technology are that less space is required as the design of the system technology is less complex than in the die of laser heating.

Inductive heating

Energy-efficient inductive heating is particularly suitable for processing large component areas measuring several hundred millimeters within short cycle times. An adapted inductor can precisely define the surface area to be heated and thus achieve high component quality. A range of different thermal component penetration depths can be achieved by varying the process parameters.

Our services

  • Consulting and assessing the suitability of various heating technologies for your specific application
  • Conducting feasibility studies into heating the material in individual component geometries
  • Developing and demonstrating processes on a servo press at the Fraunhofer IPT
  • Developing laser heating, induction and conduction technology systems
  • Integration of the systems into existing production plants

Conduction

The straightforward system technology for electrical resistance heating can be particularly compact for use in production processes conducted on sheets with thicknesses of several millimeters.

Induction

Induction heat is particularly energy-efficient and is suitable primarily for forming large component areas of several hundred millimeters within short cycle times.

Laser

The precision of laser heating sheet metal makes it particularly suitable for the production of complex component geometries.

Heating technologies

The Fraunhofer IPT has developed various local heating methods for thermal-assisted sheet metal processing. In addition to the laser beam as a heat source, the researchers from Aachen also use inductive or conductive methods for heating.

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