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Blackbird, TU Munich Collaborate for OCT in Auto Manufacturing

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GARCHING, Germany, Jan. 4, 2018 — Remote laser welding system manufacturer Blackbird Robotersysteme GmbH is participating in a research project with the Technical University of Munich’s Institute for Machine Tools and Industrial Management and multiple industrial partners to explore optical coherence tomography's potential for remote laser welding in auto manufacturing.

The project will investigate innovative technology for more flexibility in body construction, particularly electromobility. Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research is sponsoring the project under the Photonics Research Germany research incentive program.

The German government's goal is to advance electromobility. Disappointing electric vehicle sales point to inflexible production structures that do not allow cost-efficient manufacturing of smaller volumes. Future-proof production systems and bonding techniques need to be flexible, adapt easily and work with connectivity. To maximize efficiency and autonomy, machines will require much more information about their surroundings and the objects to-be-processed. This is precisely where contactless methods such as OCT, combined with photonic sensors, offer tremendous potential for detecting orientation and status, assessing process results and sharing and documenting this information within the manufacturing process.

The two entities, along with project partners BMW AG, Precitec GmbH & Co. KG, Emil Bucher GmbH & Co. KG and Application and Technology GmbH & Co. KG, are seeking an innovation leap through alternative bonding technology for raw body construction. The research project is sponsored by Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

"It's conceivable the future will offer numerous additional application possibilities — even reaching beyond the auto industry." said Ulrich Munzert, chief technology officer at Blackbird Robotersysteme. "In light of the automotive sector's demanding requirements, this research project now allows us to accumulate practical experience on simplifying manufacturing approaches and processes while weighing them against alternatives."

The project utilizes a Blackbird scan solution consisting of an intelliWELD PR scan head from affiliated company Scanlab, a ScanControlUnit and an OCT scanner. The data allows assessment of seam quality as well as detection and recording of defects such as inadequate width, penetration, open pores and faulty positioning. This data can be used in a clock-period-neutral manner for quality assurance procedures that eliminate the need for downstream quality assurance steps.
Jan 2018
Businessresearch and developmentBlackbird RobotersystemelasersmaterialsTechnical University of MunichInstitute for Machine Tools and Industrial ManagementIWBOCTopticsautomotiveEurope

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