TLM Laser has designed the Al-Rock mobile laser hardening system, enabling large and complex automotive tools to be processed in-situ.
The Al-Rock is a mobile robot specifically for laser hardening applications on metal surfaces. Combining the efficiency of a diode laser system with the flexibility and dexterity of a six-axis robot, all mounted to a self-propelled crawling chassis, allows the technology to be taken directly to the press and the laser hardening process to be performed in-situ. This can generate significant cost savings for automotive manufacturers by reducing the time that a press is out of action.
Stoppages in a volume production car plant can run into many tens of thousands of pounds per hour. The mobile system can work on press tools at short notice, with minimum downtime and using a hardening process which is also both fast and efficient.
The extensive horizontal reach of the robot makes it possible to cover the large areas and complex shapes normally associated with automotive press tools. The diode laser system and zoom optics allows precision selective hardening to be carried out without the risk of affecting surrounding areas from residual heat, with the added benefit of being energy efficient when compared to the traditional induction or flame hardening alternatives.
The system delivers 3,000W of output power making it possible to case harden to a depth of approximately 2mm, depending upon the material. The process time for selective laser hardening is also extremely short, requiring just a few seconds to heat the area of the part to the required temperature.
Although the system is designed to be mobile, it can also operate as an off-line laser hardening cell. The flexible laser safety guarding package which comes with the system can be used to set up a static workstation.