Luxinar shares 19 applications of its lasers in the automotive industry

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Luxinar lasers are used worldwide for a variety of applications within the automotive industry. The industry utilises a wide variety of materials, including reinforced plastics, textiles, glass and rubber, all of which can be successfully processed using our lasers. All of Luxinar’s sealed CO2 laser sources may be used in automotive applications, from the SR series to the OEM 65iX, as well as the MULTISCAN marking system.

One of the most widespread applications is the processing of plastic automotive parts, such as interior and dashboard panels, pillars, bumpers, trims and light housings. Automotive components are made from a variety of plastics including ABS, TPO, polypropylene, polycarbonate, HDPE and acrylic, as well as various composites and laminates. Typical processes include cutting holes for fixing points, lights, parking sensors and other components, trimming excess plastic left over from the injection moulding/forming process, and surface texturing and/or paint removal from selected areas. For these applications, typically a Luxinar SR series laser or SCX 35, is usually mounted on a robot arm in order to steer the beam around the 3-dimensional contours of the part. In some cases, several laser processes may be performed within a single robot cell, improving production efficiency. 

Headlamp housings and lenses made from clear plastic sometimes require laser trimming, usually to remove tabs of waste plastic left by the injection moulding process. Lamp parts are usually made from polycarbonate, chosen for its optical clarity, high impact/shatter resistance, and its resistance to weather and UV rays. Although the laser process leaves this particular plastic with a rough finish, the laser-cut edges are rarely visible once the headlight is fully assembled.

Related: Keely Portway looks at some of the latest ways laser surface treatment is being used to optimise automotive production 

Luxinar lasers can also be used to cut the range of textiles used in automotive manufacturing. For example, SR series lasers are often used to cut cloth for car seats. Process speed depends on the type and thickness of the fabric, but the relationship between the power and cutting speed is generally linear – in other words, a laser with more power will cut at proportionally higher speed. Most synthetic fabrics are cut cleanly, waste fabric is minimised, and the edges are sealed so that the material does not fray during the subsequent stitching and assembly of the car seats.

Luxinar lasers are also used to trim excess material from fabric-covered dashboards and interior pillars. The fabric is bonded to these parts during the moulding process, requiring the excess to be removed from the edges prior to fitting in the vehicle. Again, this is a 5-axis robotic process, with the cutting head following the contours of the part. For this, lasers from both Luxinar’s SR and OEM series are typically used here. Other textile applications include cutting webbing for seat belts and fabric for airbags, as well as cutting and texturing real and synthetic leather for seats and trim, and carpet and mat cutting.

Luxinar’s offering in the automotive industry is not restricted to industrial laser sources; the MULTISCAN may also be used in various ways. In the rubber seal around car doors or tailgate, there are small drainage holes, each a few millimetres in diameter. These are drilled in the hollow rubber extrusion on the fly, using the MULTISCAN to track the moving product. Rubber for windscreen wiper blades may be processed in a similar way. The MULTISCAN may also be used for marking various automotive parts with information; these include plastic components, wiper blades, and car windows.

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