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EMAG's Laser Lab Support for Gear Welding Operations

By James D. Sawyer
Executive Editor
EMAG LLC (Farmington Hills, MI) is working to position itself so that no matter who—or what—drives a vehicle in the future or how vehicles are powered, the company will have a hand in the production of the gears and shafts that make cars and trucks move. To that end the company has opened a Laser Welding Laboratory to support the laser welding technology it is using as a quality and productivity enabler in some of its machines.

Jim SawyerAnd, of course, it doesn’t hurt that laser welding is a process that can help cut the weight of vehicles as well.

“The purpose of the Laser Lab,” said EMAG USA CEO Peter Loetzner, “is to open up the laser welding business to companies that don’t employ laser specialists.” The lab can help these companies “with seam design and with fixture design.”

The lab also has hardening testing and can measure weld quality “to make sure our machine delivers what our customer needs.”

The Farmington Hills lab is essentially set up to assist customers who are new to the laser welding process, having just acquired EMAG’s multifunctional ELC 250 Duo, its ELC 200 H or the ELC 160.

For customers who already have a laser welding machine but who are adding different workpieces there is a second, portable, lab. It can be taken to the customer’s facility and used EMAG ELC 250 DUOto assist with all the things that the Farmington Hills lab can help new buyers with.

Loetzner sees great opportunity for EMAG in the ELC 250 DUO. It is aimed at production of differentials. The benefits of replacing the screw connection between a ring gear and the differential housing with laser welding include cost and weight saving. Eliminating bolts and nuts and the machining and assembly they require—not to mention the need to stock these items—reduces cost. Loetzner estimates that the ROI of going to a laser welding system in this instance occurs in less than a year. As for weight, laser welding comes in, he said, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 kg lighter—not a bad neighborhood to live in during an era where every gram counts.

“There are some challenges, however,” he said.

Differential housings are made of cast iron while the ring gears are made of case-hardened steel. This dissimilarity of materials makes it imperative that the welding process is tailored to a specific component. “There are no one-size-fits-all solutions,” Loetzner said. Assembly of the pieces prior to welding can also introduce contaminants that can affect the weld. The ELC 250 Duo is capable of using a laser to rid the components of any contaminants.

The Laser Welding Laboratory was created to help EMAG customers deal with just such job-specific issues as these.

Published Date : 6/9/2016

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