Award for RobScan production technology
Higher speeds and quality levels alongside improved economical and ecological efficiency
Innovative combination of hardware, process technology, and control software
Daimler to donate prize money to a charitable organization
The Laser Technology 2008 Innovation Award presented by Arbeitskreis Lasertechnik e.V. and the European Laser Institute (ELI) has been awarded upon Daimler AG for its robot-controlled laser beam welding procedure called RobScan, which was jointly developed by Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Production Planning. Yesterday, Bertold Hopf, head of Material and Production Technology, Dr. Klaus-Dieter Debschütz, head of Materials, Production Technology, and Vehicle Body Concepts at Group Research, and RobScan project manager Holger Schubert accepted the award at the AKL 2008 International Laser Technology Congress in Aachen. Prof. Reinhart Poprawe, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology, handed over the award, which is presented every other year to individuals or project groups whose skills and dedication have led to outstanding innovations in laser technology. The prize money of €10,000 will be donated by Daimler AG to a charitable organization to be named at a late time.
“Mercedes-Benz has once again been recognized as a pioneer for innovative production and material technology,” said Bertold Hopf at the awards presentation. “We’re very pleased to have the importance of our work confirmed by this prestigious award.”
It took five years to design and develop RobScan, which is now used in major series production operations. The RobScan technology is employed, for example, to make some 650 welded joints for the doors, side panels, rear-end middle piece, and rear hatch on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Such welds replace roughly 15 percent of the resistance spot welds previously used. RobScan has increased welding speed and improved welding quality. Use of the technology has also led to a reduction in flange widths, thereby lowering weight. In addition, the laser welding procedure results in better material crash performance. All in all, the new technology has made a significant contribution to improving the economy of the new model series and increasing energy efficiency in production.
One of the key innovations of RobScan is its so-called Master PC, a control unit developed by the researchers at Daimler team that in addition to ensuring permanent communication between the scanner, laser, and robot, also enables welding on the fly and the design of any type of seam pattern. Mounted to the end of the robot arm, the scanner head uses two electronically controlled adjustable mirrors to move the highly concentrated laser beam from one welding spot to the next at lightning speed. During each welding operation, the steel robot arm continually moves along the components while the scanner head simultaneously guides the laser beam "in flight" across it. This makes it possible to weld seams of the highest quality and precision at the fastest possible speed.