Every 100 kilograms saved in vehicle weight reduces fuel consumption by up to 0.3 liters per 100 kilometers, which is why the automotive industry examines each part to determine whether it can be made even lighter. The level of innovation behind these efforts is exemplified by passenger car transmissions, whose gear wheels and related components are manufactured by the millions and require optimized designs. To ensure that manufacturing processes run smoothly and efficiently, the engineering company EMAG employs high-tech solutions such as laser welding.
The differential transmission is a key component in vehicles and is manufactured millions of times over. Already perfected, is it possible to make the design even lighter? Engineers believe so and have created a simple, yet highly effective weld joint that is used by German auto makers to replace the previous threaded connection between differential components. This reduces the amount of material required, which in turn lowers the unit price of such a high-volume assembly. The weight of the differential housing is also reduced by approximately 1.2 kilograms. “This reduction is nothing short of impressive in the automotive world,” as Dr. Andreas Mootz explains, Managing Director of EMAG Automation.
But how is the welding work carried out? After all, enormous production quantities are involved. Automated ELC equipment is used to manufacture the transmissions. The machine starts by loading components, then presses them together and welds the gap. Additional processes may also be carried out depending on the component handled. Each gear wheel is finished in just twelve seconds, and all differential components are fully welded in 40 seconds. “Laser welding is the key here and integrates technology that controls the laser beam with exacting precision,” Mootz adds.
The welding specialists at EMAG enjoy a long history of success. Today, all renowned auto makers use laser welding in their manufacturing processes. German engineering companies also benefit from the recent market trend, which has resulted in an increased demand for gear wheels thanks in part to the dual-clutch transmission. This trend extends to conventional manual gearboxes as well, many of which integrate more gear ratios than before to further lower fuel consumption.