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High speed laser blanking line

The automotive sector requires high throughput production based on a flexible solution capable to manufacture different parts without cost associated to hard tooling. This project will develop and validate the technology required to manufacture blanks by means of high speed laser cutting.

The manufacturing process for parts in the automotive sector is based on the production of blanks, i. e. sheets of metal cut to the desired size that will be further processed to obtain the desired 3D geometry. The production of blanks is done in so called blanking lines, where, a coil of sheet metal is unbinded, cut into the desired shape and stacked for later processing. Blanking lines are typically formed by three main areas: - Decoiler and sheet deformation to obtain a flat material and feed itinto the cutting area. - Cutting area, where the desired geometry of the blank is obtained, typically by means of a press. - Part stacking. These lines have very high throughput, but have high associated costs due to the moulds (and plant ocupancy) requiered for each part, and low flexibility for part redesign. To avoid these drawbacks, laser blanking lines have been developed, where the sheet metal is cut by means of flexible laser cutting, instead of costly moulds. The original material is unwind and moves at constant speed to the cutting area where the cutting head moves using a trajectory. This trajectory needs to compensate the constant velocity of the sheet to obtain the proper geometry. In laser cutting the geometry of the part is programmed and can be modified easily, either to change the part reference without modification of hardware, or redesign of the part during the development. Laser based blanking lines offer promising advantages due to the higher flexibility and lower associated costs for system set up. Some of the members of the consortium have already a solution in this framework, with strong industrial interest for short series or production ramp up. However, the existing laser based systems have productivities still lower than conventional blanking lines, and the overall market of the technology is still restricted spite of the advantages. The present project will develop and validate a blanking line, based on laser cutting, with productivities much higher than the existing solutions and comparable to those of conventional blanking lines. As determined from the experience of the members of the consortium, high productivity laser blanking lines have the following challenges: - Coil unbending and positioning has smaller tolerances. The requirement to cut the material while it is moving (while still achieving the tolerance of the final part) imposes tight constrains on the positioning and displacement of the metal sheet during the unwinding, in the transport and inside the cutting cell. - High cutting speeds. The time required to cut the parts determines the throughtput of the system. Cutting speed needs to be increased to achieve productivities similar to conventional blanking lines. - High performance dynamics. The dynamics of the cutting system (jerk, acceleration) needs to be optimized to reduce the total cutting time. - Process monitoring and quality control of the parts produced, ensuring 24/7 productivity and integrating the laser blanking line into the 4.0 framework. The technological development envisaged by the participating partners will enable to increase the productivity of laser blanking lines, and offer to the automotive market an alternative to conventional blanking lines with higher flexibility and reduced cost of inventory, thus achieving a strong conventional advantage over the present solution.
Acronym: 
HS-LBL
Project ID: 
11 716
Start date: 
01-09-2017
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
3 000 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Forming (rolling, forging, pressing, drawing)
Market Area: 
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Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.