Fifty years ago, Ford used an underbody laser welding system for its assembly line. It was the first time a company was doing this. Since then, lasers have been widely used in the automotive industry – Volkswagen AG, for example, uses more than 800 high-power lasers in its global assembly plants for a range of operations from welding to cutting and drilling, cleaning and texturing for surface preparation, scanning for quality inspection, and for marking.
Laser Marking – the focus of this blog – is very important in the manufacturing process in the automobile industry as it offers eight major benefits.
In the automotive industry, components that make up a car come from different suppliers, so the importance of traceability is apparent. All plastic and metal vehicle components have a marking – barcodes, QR codes, and so on – which allows the identification of data such as manufacturer, date of purchase, and so on. The average car is made up of a little more than 30,000 parts, and laser marking provides a method to uniquely identify each of them along with their history.
Clear markings can be produced on vehicle parts of any size, whether a full identification plate on top of the engine or the small images on the instrument panel buttons that control air temperature, laser marking offers the same level of quality and clarity.
Laser markings are durable, precise markings and can be personalised. The usefulness of laser is that it can mark various materials including plastics and metals with high contrast and without the addition of any unwanted substances and any surface modification by corrugations or burrs.
Laser marking can be used to successfully and identically mark large product batches within a mass manufacturing setup. The repeatability is consistent and fast and therefore useful in the automotive industry where turnaround time is important.
Laser marking systems ensure that the identification marks including alphanumeric, barcodes and data matrix codes are legible on almost every material used in the automotive industry. These markings are so durable that they last for a lifetime of a car or the part even if the parts are exposed to high heat, fluid, oil, and gas.
Laser marking is a no-contact technique and there is no mechanical wear and tear between the laser marking system and the vehicle component. Also, the markings do not degrade due to environmental factors such as contact with acids, alkalines, and gases or with changes in temperature, which can happen in the automotive manufacturing industry. The markings also cannot be forged or changed due to the technology.
The process uses a low-powered laser to discolour the material being marked, leaving a permanent marking without damaging the structural integrity of the part. This makes it more permanent than say stickers or labels, which can easily peel off.
Blue Star E&E offers state-of-the-art high-speed industrial laser marking solutions with patent-pending technology. Give us a call to know more.