Jaguar Land Rover sees weight savings thanks to laser
Jaguar Land Rover has reduced the weight of the Jaguar F-Type body panels by up to 40 per cent through using aluminium panels, extrusions and castings all welded by laser.
Matthew Gibson at Jaguar Land Rover UK detailed some of the laser processes involved at the company’s Halewood manufacturing plant in Liverpool during a presentation at the Association of Laser Users’ (AILU) Industrial Laser Applications Symposium (ILAS), which took place 17-18 March in Kenilworth, UK.
Jaguar Land Rover has invested heavily in the UK – it has plans to double the size of its operations at its headquarters in Coventry and said it would create 1,300 jobs to build its first sports utility vehicle at its Solihull plant.
At ILAS, Gibson said that every 80 seconds a new car gets driven off the production line at Halewood, meaning that a production process takes place every 80 seconds.
Jaguar Land Rover is now using aluminium in quite a few of its vehicles to save weight, something that Klaus Löffler, director of international sales at laser maker Trumpf, noted as a trend taking place in the automotive sector, giving the example of Ford which is now using aluminium more often in its vehicles. He made his comments during a Trumpf-organised automotive conference at the beginning of the year.
The new Range Rover is 400kg lighter using aluminium panels, according to Gibson, while the Freelander is 22kg lighter with an aluminium tailgate and bonnet. The Freelander’s tailgate is particularly complicated to build – it is comprised of five pieces involving four seams, all of which are laser welded and the finished part is laser cleaned.
Jaguar Land Rover uses a 4kW TruDisk laser from Trumpf as its main laser welding machine, which includes a Scansonic adaptive laser optic welding head with seam tracking and process monitoring. A Q-switched YAG laser with optics that oscillates the beam is used to clean any dirt or oil from the part.
Jaguar Land Rover’s Halewood production facility relies so heavily on laser processing, commented Gibson at the ILAS event, that the facility has a spare laser powered and ready to go in case of failure to avoid production downtime.
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