For many years car manufacturers have faced the challenge of building lighter vehicles to improve emissions whilst maintaining vehicle strength and safety.
Many auto manufacturers such as Nissan and Volkswagen are using a combination of hot stamped pressing with 5 axis laser cutting to produce lightweight yet strong components.
The reason that 5 axis laser cutting is used to trim hot stamped pressings is because the material is much harder than normal cold stamped pressings. This means that traditional tools are not hard enough to trim the pressings.
Furthermore, even if harder tool steel was used then the tools would need so much maintenance that high volume production would not be feasible.
Thus 5 axis laser cutting was seen as the best option to trim the pressings and had the additional benefit of being able to cut holes and apertures in the same operation.
Although 5 axis laser cutting was considerably slower than pressing the modern Trumpf multi station laser cutting machines such as the one used by GF Laser have decreased the overall part to part time.
This is achieved by setting up parts on one station or cabin whilst the 5 axis laser is busy cutting in another station. Coupled with this is the increased speed of the new generation of lasers which provide rapid head movement around the stationery work-piece.
Finally, 5 axis laser cutting has another benefit over cut tools, because holes and apertures can be cut post pressing this means that they can be located close or on form lines without the risk of distortion.
This gives vehicle designers added flexibility when designing parts, a crucial element in today’s competitive car market when any added feature can bring extra revenue.