Charles T. Troy, firstname.lastname@example.org
GEESTHACHT, Germany – A new facility complete with a semi-industrial laser system has
been built at the GKSS Research Center in Geesthacht, in collaboration with Airbus
Deutschland GmbH. According to professor Norbert Huber, head of material mechanics
at GKSS, the center has a cooperation agreement with Airbus until 2016, which allows
the company to use the system for its own research and development.
GKSS has invested approximately 61 million in the facility, which
was officially opened in April by representatives of GKSS and Airbus. The new system
will be used to research laser welding of new lightweight construction alloys, among
other areas. The materials researchers from Geesthacht are taking over the system
from its Airbus location in Nordenham.
The GKSS laser welding facility
combines lasers and robotics for welding lightweight materials. Image courtesy of
GKSS Research Centre Geesthacht.
The new system will be used to optimize welding technologies for
innovative lightweight alloys in joint research and development projects. According
to Huber, the system will be welding mainly aluminum and magnesium, along with other
metals and materials combinations. With the pilot system, it is now possible to
weld up to a length of about 9 m in the newly constructed facility. The system employs
two DC035 CO2 lasers from Rofin-Sinar with a maximum output of 3.5 kW, along with
an industrial 30-kg robot arm mounted on an external 4.5-m axis from Kuka Robotics.
Focused on lightweight materials
“The system is ideal for our research in the area of strength
and reliability of laser-welded lightweight structures,” said Huber, who added,
“We will use the laser system for welding process development with new lightweight
alloys and for producing lightweight demonstrators. Bilateral cooperations and large
projects (e.g., EU) with industry are envisaged. We typically cover the process
chain from fundamental research to demonstration and technology transfer.”
While investigation at Airbus in Nordenham focused on laser beam
welding of length-stiffened profiles, known as stringers, for the external skin
of the aluminum fuselage structure of aircraft, in Geesthacht the focus of investigation
is on sample models and test components for aircraft fuselage shells.
According to GKSS, one challenge in modern aircraft and vehicle
manufacture is to save cost and weight. To produce the fuselage of an aircraft,
for example, laser beam welding increasingly is used as a substitute for the traditional
technology of riveting. This saves weight and, along with it, carbon dioxide emissions,
while reducing production time. In aircraft manufacture, strict safety regulations
must be observed. Computer simulations and complicated tests are required, which
include the welded seams.
Among other techniques, the materials researchers at Geesthacht
use the established GKSS characterization method with neutron and synchrotron radiation
for this purpose.
In the future, the GKSS Research Center increasingly will be geared
toward development of new lightweight materials and material systems. To this end,
construction of the pioneering GKSS Lightweight Materials Assessment, Computing
and Engineering Centre (ACE) is planned. The new laser system will be part of this
The particular strength of the ACE research platform will lie
in the combination of processing, characterization and simulation methods. This
includes both joining technology and producing sample multimaterial systems and
complex lightweight structures. As a further area of research, for example, models
will be developed to enable prediction of failure behavior of such structures under
loads similar to real operation.