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LZH improves processing head for more efficient engine production

The research institute Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) has updated its internal processing laser head (IBK) technology to include integrated sensors for process monitoring.

The new IBK R7 head was developed in close cooperation with an LZH customer, and is reportedly much easier to use than its predecessor. In addition, the radiation path of the updated head has been optimised, which according to the LZH prevents soiling during processing.

An example application of the IBK, which is already used in series production, is roughening the inner surfaces of cylinders in aluminium engine blocks in order to prepare them for a wear-resistant coating. The coating is necessary, because while aluminium engine blocks are significantly lighter than their conventional cast iron predecessors, they are also less durable.

The IBK head consists of a spindle with a rotating beam deflection element attached to the end. During processing, a focused laser beam emerges from the end, the spindle lowers into the bore and the end of the spindle rotates together with the deflection element. In this way, trench-like structures are introduced into the surface being roughened.

Related article: Dr Stefan Kaierle of the LZH shares how joining dissimilar materials with laser welding could be used to decrease the weight of ships and cars

For the above application, by using the technique, a special cleaning step after the roughening and before the coating – such as after corundum blasting – is not required. In addition, since the IBK works virtually wear-free, it has an advantage over conventional machining tools.

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