AWL is an experienced integrator and innovator in the field of laser welding.
Laser welding offers speed, precision, high productivity, new construction possibilities and cost benefits. In order to guarantee a fast welding speed and a reliable process, the product design, jig design, integrated airflow and other preconditions must be of the highest quality. AWL has years of experience in these fields and innovation is deeply rooted in its DNA, leading to very successful projects for our customers.
AWL started in laser welding in 2003. By now, AWL has delivered more than 180 high power laser welding machines, producing millions of high quality parts around the clock. Examples of industries in which these machines are active include automotive body-in-white (BIW), automotive seating, industrial cabinets, E-mobility and many more. Production quality is extremely important in these industries.
Designing and building a laser welding machine requires a broad knowledge of many aspects of welding and machine building. A project can start with a consultancy session or workshop together with the customer. Then, test parts can be made in our laboratory, the AWL Experience Center. There, high power lasers are available for testing and our specialists provide their knowledge to your project. The heart of every welding machine is the jig. AWL has great experience in designing stable and reliable jigs. For the machines, AWL integrates state-of-the art components, and is open to integrate different laser brands and different robot brands, to optimally adapt to the requirements of the customer.
AWL is seen as one of the most representative machine builders and systems integrators that apply laser welding technologies.
Why laser welding
Laser welding is a versatile process which can be used to weld a variety of materials. Lasers are often used in high volume production applications as they have high productivity, excellent weld quality and a level of automation that allows 24/7 operation. This all leads to a direct and substantial competitive advantage for our customers.
The desire for higher output and the use of lightweight materials, such as aluminum and high- strength steel, demands alternative joining methods. Aluminum is much lighter than normal steel and more affordable than fiber reinforced plastics or magnesium. It is predicted that the use of aluminum for BIW and door applications will double by 2020. Also, the rise in popularity of electric cars increases demand for light-weight solutions, to increase the range of the vehicle and to compensate for the weight of the batteries. Laser welding has beneficial properties for joining aluminum and high-strength steel, such as low heat input, high welding speed and short weld-to-weld times. Through years of experience, AWL has the right knowledge to weld lightweight materials.
When using laser welding on products with high production volumes, long welding lengths and/or many sub parts, the cost savings are impressive. These savings are primarily created by the high welding speed, the quick weld-to-weld times and the fast change-over times. Furthermore, in cosmetic welds, directly visible to the customer, often manual finishing operations which would be needed after arc welding, can be discarded when using laser welding. In industries such as the furniture industries, this can lead to very significant cost advantages.
With virtual engineering and 3D robot simulation AWL guarantees the reach ability of all the welds and lead time you desire. Specific benefits in AWL laser welding jigs are the attention for “zero gap clamping” of the single parts and great care for solid airflow movement, which enables maximum welding speeds. In addition, design to prevent operator mistakes, spatter protection, unloading assistance and nest intelligence are some of the other advantages of AWL’s high-end jigs.
The product design needed for successful laser welding, combined with accurate jig clamping, enables a high and constant weld quality. For measuring and tracking the quality of the laser welds, AWL is well experienced in integrating quality monitoring equipment from industry leading suppliers. These systems can be connected to the customer’s overall production control systems. It is also possible to use the signals from the AWL machines as inputs for a preventive maintenance strategy.
Easy robot programming
In the past, most laser welds were overlap welds. In the last years AWL has successfully concentrated on adding non-overlap laser welds with industrial robots to the portfolio. A unique software tool was developed to enable easy robot programming for these demanding applications, the AWL GeoEditor. This greatly helps you in programming optimizations and also supports quick commissioning. In some applications, this reduced optimization time from 4 hours to less than 5 minutes.
At AWL, experts are continuously working on further optimizations of the machines. We are working in close cooperation with leading suppliers to further improve the machines, working together in open innovation. These innovations are for example aimed on improving productivity, such as the latest developments in robotic on-the-fly laser welding – laser welding with a scanner head on a moving robot – or improving quality, for example in laser welding fixtures optimized with CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) technologies, where the airflow that is needed for high welding speed is optimized using numerical simulations.
In the last years, AWL has focused on modularization of the machines and jigs. This leads to great improvements for the customer, such as a much lower delivery lead time, lower prices, higher quality and great flexibility. AWL has already supplied several modular laser cells. An objective of delivering a modular laser cell is to reduce the lead time. A modular cell also makes it easier to reuse components. This enables scaling up the production if demand rises: it is possible to start production on a smaller, lower investment, machine and add modules to increase output as required. Finally, this modularization enables AWL to deliver the same quality to its customers worldwide, adjusted if necessary to local needs.