Sep 29, 2017 | By Tess

A team from the Aachen-based Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT has developed a novel process for micro-welding battery cells and power electronics. The technology, which uses microjoining and can be used in combination with 3D printing, is known as Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, or LaserTAB.

According to Fraunhofer ILT, it has successfully combined robotics, laser scanning technology with new optics, and a process monitoring system to create an innovative lightweight robot (LBR) and an intelligent industrial work assistant (iiwa) designed to be used in close collaboration with humans. Notably, LaserTAB is reportedly the first “sensitive robot” to be manufactured in series.

The LaserTAB system, which can be used to microjoin battery cells, consists of a robotic arm mounted with a relay-optic and a spacer unit. The spacer enables the robot to “feel” when it touches the welding point, initiating the welding process. This means that extra parts such as complex clamps, which would normally be used to keep a position in place, are no longer necessary.

The spacer also ensures that the welding point is also a constant distance from the optic lens (maintaining the focal length), which allows for more precise microjoining and micro-welding, resulting in a higher-quality output.

According to Fraunhofer ILT, the LaserTAB microjoining system has a number of applications and benefits. As the group says, “All possible applications point to the advantages of the new robot-assisted process, in which the user guides the robot directly to the point of use. It saves the previous, elaborate search of the focus position and the cumbersome positioning of the laser.”

Fraunhofer ILT will be presenting and demonstrating its new micro-welding process this November at the productronica trade fair in Munich. There, visitors will be able to see the German team use a combination of 3D printing and the LaserTAB robot to microjoin and weld prismatic, round, and pouch cells for battery technology.

More specifically, the Fraunhofer ILT team will be demonstrating “how a copper contact element can be connected to a round cell via LaserTAB.” The copper connector, for its part, will be 3D printed using the organization’s own Selective Laser Melting (SLM) additive manufacturing process (also known as “Laser Beam Melting” or “Laser Powder-Bed Fusion” (L-PBF).

Fraunhofer ILT will be present at the productronica trade show from November 14 to 17, demonstrating its new additive manufacturing combo process at booth B2.317. Interested parties can learn more about the innovative LaserTAB process there.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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