Jenoptik shows photonics technologies in processing

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Photo by Jenoptik Automatisierungstechnik GmbH Jenoptik is showing laser-based cutting, welding and perforation systems for auto interior and exterior parts.

Jena, Germany-based Jenoptik Automatisierungstechnik GmbH is presenting contact-free laser-based cutting, welding and perforation system solutions for automotive exterior and interior parts at Fakuma.

These include 3D CO2 lasers with power up to 5 kilowatts, capable of cutting unpainted or Class A surface quality painted bumper fascia at up to 500 millimeters per second with +/-500 µm precision in Votan BIM (beam in motion) equipment.

Votan BIM can also combine Votan W free-radiating diode laser welding machinery into a single unit with robot-guided laser welding heads cutting and invisibly welding bumper fascias.

Jenoptik has supplied more than 200 such high-power automotive industry laser processing systems. Votan C BIM equipment is used to cut lightweight glass and carbon fiber-reinforced composite parts.

The company featured in a 2016 Society of Plastics Engineers automotive innovation award for robotic cutting and welding by Magna Exteriors Inc. of the thermoplastic olefin bumper fascia of the 2017 General Motors Camaro ZL1.

The process was praised for cutting the painted front side cleanly, for not requiring thicker wall sections to prevent weld read-through on the surface when welding rear support brackets, and the small equipment footprint due to cutting and welding functions combined in one unit. Unlike hydraulic punching and ultrasonic welding, the jury remarked that Jenoptik's welding process does not need contoured horns or punches.

Jenoptik Automotive North America LLC in Rochester Hills, Michigan, developed the equipment for Magna. In August, Jenoptik announced strengthening of US activities with the acquisition of nearby Novi, Mich.-based Five Lakes Automation LLC, a company established in 2013 as a specialist in metal processing systems. Jenoptik said Five Lakes know-how would help it develop from a machine supplier into an integrated specialist for metal and plastic processing.

Jenoptik says laser welding plastics involves faster cycle time and lower tool costs than ultrasonics.

Jenoptik GmbH was established in 1991, after German reunification, through privatisation of part of the former state-owned company VEB Carl Zeiss Jena.

VEB Carl Zeiss Jena had 13 operations in the former East Germany with around 30,000 employees, while today's Jenoptik GmbH has 3,500 employees, 19.4% outside Germany.

The publicly traded company expects to record sales of 800 million euros in 2018. America and the Asia/Pacific are described as growth regions that should account for 40% of sales in 2018, up from 34.4% in 2016.

Although not a focus at Fakuma, another part of Jenoptik that processes plastics is the group's Triptis and Mühlhausen, Germany-based Jenoptik Polymer Systems GmbH subsidiary. It grew from the 2013 acquisition of Wahl Optoparts GmbH, a company that claims to have produced the first injection moulded plastic lens in 1956.

Jenoptik Polymer Systems produces a wide range of often micro-sized polymer optics parts and systems, as used in blood sugar measurement equipment, cameras, laptops, mobile phones, microscopes, machine vision and sensor systems and as automotive polymer light guides.

Its 1-350 mm diameter polymer free-form lenses, finished with slow-tool servo rotary diamond grinding, are used in scanners and rotary encoders.

Polymer optical parts produced include Fresnel lenses, double-sided micro-lens arrays with integrated supports and diffractive lenses with 1,000 lines per millimeter moulded-in grid structures in depths of 10-400 nanometers and nano-structured non-reflective surfaces. The company says injection and injection/compression moulding enable aspherical surface lenses to be produced at the same cost as spherical lenses.

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