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Reis laser gantry at Voestalpine

The Reis laser gantry cuts and deburrs structural components for the automotive industry at high speed.

The initial situation

Voestalpine Plastic Solutions – a subsidiary of the Voestalpine Group – manufactures and machines structural components made of plastic for the new Mercedes C-Class and E-Class at its plant in Roosendaal, Netherlands. Using laser cutting cells from Reis and without special tools, the manufacturer very quickly and flexibly cuts any contour out of moldings and also deburrs the parts in the same cycle. The corresponding parts – from the spare tire well, firewalls and bumpers to the cladding of the vehicle floor – have to be machined after the forming process with a pressing force of 100 - 2,500 tonnes. In order to avoid using heavy and expensive cutting dies, the company uses a laser to process parts such as the rear engine compartment panels for the Mercedes C-Class and E-Class gasoline models.

The task

For the manufacture of components, the company uses the Sheet Molding Compound (SMC) process. In this process, a resin-soaked filler and glass fibers are cut fully automatically. This results in a sheet-like SMC semi-finished product. The thermosetting reactive resins and glass fibers in sheet form are then used to manufacture fiber-reinforced plastic composites which have high stability and energy absorption capacity in their final state. The finished engine compartment panel is unloaded from the press and, after cooling, is processed further in the next step. This involves cutting out the flow aids, making the mounting holes and deburring all the edges. If there were only a single component design, a press with the appropriate tooling would be an option. However, the complex shape and the large number of variants – which depend on the engine to be installed later in the vehicle – made this option impractical at Voestalpine Plastic Solutions.
Reis Laser-Portal von Außen mit Drehtisch
High volumes can be achieved by using the rotary table

The solution

The reason why cycle times are so important can be summed up in one figure: three million parts. Because it’s about achieving maximum speed and optimal use of the available space, a highly dynamic laser gantry with integrated beam guidance is used. In this case, the cycle times for the subsequent machining process are significantly shorter than those of the presses used for the forming process. Thanks to the unique Reis laser gantry and the optimization process, the processing time was shortened significantly and it was possible to undercut the cycle times of the conventional, classic jointed-arm laser robot. Linear direct drives for the main axes enable high acceleration and velocity as well as stable path behavior. 
Reis Laser-Portal entgratet ein Bauteil
The finishing time can be reduced significantly by using the highly dynamic laser gantry

The new Reis robotic laser cutting cell at Voestalpine Plastic Solutions has significantly sped up the processing of engine compartment panels. It enables the company to reliably produce the large quantities and the high quality demanded by automotive manufacturer Mercedes Benz.

William Engelen, Project Manager, Voestalpine Plastics Solutions

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