The more complex a workpiece is, the longer the process chains are and the more frequently the workpiece must be re-clamped. As a result, set-up and storage times increase and machining accuracy decreases. Hybrid production machines and machine tools with an integrated laser tool provide an economical solution: The use of laser technology in an existing production machine enables various successive process steps to be carried out by one machine and in one clamping operation.
The laser beam as a tool
As flexible tools, lasers can be integrated into machine tools for use in automated production processes. Modular tool systems increase flexibility in production. For example, a cutting tool can be replaced by a laser beam if the process sequence requires it. Conventional and laser-assisted machining can thus be combined and switched whenever necessary. Hybrid manufacturing systems can already meet the increasing demands on productivity and quality for a broad product range, even for small batch sizes.
Upgrading existing machines through laser integration
The Fraunhofer IPT has many years of experience in the field of laser system integration. In earlier projects, conventional milling, turning and spinning machines were successfully converted into hybrid, laser-based machine tools. Laser modules for upgrading existing machines to multifunctional machines were also successfully developed. Systems like this are suitable not only for localized heat-ing or hybrid processes, but also for additive production in combination with machining processes. Our laser integration process design is goal-driven, ensuring that the architecture of the basic machine is affected to only a very limited extent. In addition, we use standardized components in order to ensure that the machine can be retrofitted with ease, maintained and operated without restricting the original machine functionality.
- Proof of concept and economic feasibility studies of laser processes
- Pilot tests with production-specific materials and geometries for process design
- Support in the selection of laser systems, benchmarking beam sources
- Concept, design and set-up of integration solutions as well as overall production systems
- Integrating laser system technology into existing machines and production chains
- Prototype production of components on our hybrid production machines
- Developing laser optics and mechanical tools
- Providing support in the implementation of a laser protection concept
- Documenting knowledge and employee training