CIAC, or the Cluster of the Automotive Industry in Catalonia, selected Monocrom to participate in the 31st IESE Auto, which is one of the most important symposiums in the automotive industry in Europe. The title for this year was “The Battle for Automotive”, referring to the current situation of the sector, with the Industry 4.0 opening the door to new players such as the “big data” companies, and with the new trends of digitalization of all business areas, increased regulation, irruption of the electric car, and so on. Taking into account the current trends, it is very important to improve the car consume efficiency while complying with safety regulations.
Monocrom, presented the results of a novel approach for heat assisted roll forming of metal sheet based on a direct diode laser concept. This work has been developed in collaboration with the American multinational producing automotive parts Adient and the research center Aimen under the EU-founded project LASHARE (FP7-2013). Metallic profiles are widely used in the automotive industry. Considering steel as number one material for load intensive high volume parts, manufacturing technologies for Ultra High-Strength Steels (UHSS) are required to enable a continuous development in terms of weight reduction, stringent safety regulations, emissions reduction, solid performance, at affordable costs. UHSS when processed at cold temperatures are prone to spring-back and cracking, making them extremely difficult to process by bending. Heat assisted forming is found to be the best solution for improving the formability of UHSS. The metal sheet is heated up by the laser source during roll forming and the bending is carried out at elevated temperatures avoiding cracking of the material. Since the UHSS are highly sensitive to temperature cycle, heating must be done with a very controlled and reliable power source. As opposed to the induction heating, a laser source is less sensitive to vibrations of the metal sheet and variations in the distance between the laser source and the metal.
At Monocrom we have a unique way of building diode laser modules with characteristics that match well the requirements of harash industrial environments. Our laser source is able to deliver a 5kW optical power in CW in a line of 900 μm thickness that heats up the metal above 500 °C at a production speed of 10m/min. without affecting the structural properties of the metal. The equipment consists in a complete integrated package which can be directly fit into a station of a roll forming machine, including the laser source itself, optics, adjustment capability, control and laser safety measures. This is a disruptive product which encloses a unique technology inside. It is reliable, transparent to the user, and opens a whole range of opportunities for the customer.