How Are Lasers Used In The Automotive Industry

The automotive industry is consistently among the first to adopt the latest technologies. For instance, an American car manufacturing giant was among the first to use robotics in the 60s. Nowadays, laser technology often boosts robotics to make better cars.

Laser cutting machine cutting car carpet mat and engine gasket

Different types of materials are used in manufacturing any vehicle, from metal, plastics, glass, fabric, and rubber. Overall, laser technology is used in the assembly line to eliminate repetitive manual tasks, increase efficiency, and improve the quality of each product.

For further information about this, below are some of laser technology’s applications in the automotive industry:

  1. Laser Cutting And Drilling

A significant portion of a vehicle’s exterior is made of metal. Thus, laser cutting services such as those done at KNS Metals and similar shops have become vital in car manufacturing.

Because lasers can reach areas that may not be accessible to humans and traditional tools, they can make precise holes for sensors, switches, lights, and other connection and fixing points.

Lasers are often mounted on robotic arms to make it easier to manipulate and produce three-dimensional cuts of specific vehicle parts. This method enables perfect cutting and fitting operation for many automobile sections, enhancing efficiency. Additionally, plastics are moulded to fit particular areas, and lasers can trim excess plastic to perfect their positions in vehicles. Moreover, one can control lasers to leave plastics with the desired finish, cutting modification times considerably.

This automotive technology can also drill small holes for drainage along the rubber seals needed for tailgates and doors in any vehicle.

  1. Metal Welding

Laser technology is also used in the car manufacturing assembly lines, attaching door frames, hoods, chassis, and body frames. The car’s subsections such as airbags, coils, battery connections, and electronics and sensors systems can also be attached or welded using laser technology. Even modern electric vehicle chargers are made primarily from metals, most notably silver, for their high corrosion resistance and conductivity properties.

Compared to manual welding, this process ensures better safety for consumers and less wastage for carmakers. Laser welding provides durability and strength needed in the sector, more so reliability by employing high-technology welding techniques.

Industrial laser cut machine while cutting the sheet metal with

  1. Metal Stamping

This process is used in various industrial processes, most notably in car manufacturing. Metal stamping involves shaping flat metal sheets into specific forms. Carmakers use several techniques of this to create different types of vehicles, such as:

  • Bending, where the metal is bent along a straight line;
  • Blanking, where a portion is cut out of a sheet for further processing;
  • Curling, or deforming metal into tubes and typically used in making door hinges;
  • Embossing or creating a shallow depression to make way for decorations;
  • Flanging, or shaping the sheet along a curved line;
  • Hemming, or creating thickness on a metal sheet by folding an edge over onto it, as with making automobile door edges;
  • Necking is a method used to gradually reduce the diameter of the open end of a vessel or tube;
  • Stretching is a process that ensures the car body parts remain smooth.
  1. Plastic Parts Processing

Welding isn’t limited to metal materials. Lasers can also weld plastic such as electronics cases, front lights, and backlights. One can operate a laser to make plastic car parts like bumpers, dashboard panels, pillars, trims, number plates, and spoilers. The good thing about lasers is that they can work on all types of plastics used in the automotive sector. These include acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), acrylic, polycarbonate, and polypropylene.

  1. Interior Fabric Processing

Some consumers may consider a car’s interior fabrics as mere aesthetics. But some fabrics are used to provide consumer safety. Apart from modern safety devices that rely on electronics – airbags and seat belts remain a staple in a vehicle’s safety systems.

Airbags are often coated with silicone to optimize their functions. Before placing them inside a car, the fabric must be cut and trimmed using laser technology to ensure they fit well. Eliminating human intervention in cutting and trimming airbags also ensures that the material and silicone coating retains their strength and isn’t exposed to potential damage.

Car manufacturers can also use laser technology to cut heat protection textiles, the polyester fabric used in keyboard films and wind deflectors, seat upholstery, and technical adhesive films needed to produce vehicle logos and emblems.

  1. Surface modification

Laser technology can also modify the surface of a vehicle or remove excess paint from composite or plastic materials. When a car part needs to be attached with an adhesive, carmakers may need to prepare the car’s surface for proper adhesion. Using a laser preserves the vehicle’s integrity, as the laser can deliver only the required pressure needed without possibly damaging the surface.

Wrap Up

Laser technology has become a staple in several car manufacturing processes because it can be used in several applications and provides countless benefits. Laser has made welding, cutting, processing, and modifications fast and efficient, enabling car manufacturers to produce safer and more reliable cars while reducing costs.