Quality Control of Aluminium Laser-welded Assemblies


The development of the QCOALA laser processing system will mean that testing is carried out so that parts are not tested until breaking point. It will also provide a reliable, high-speed, low-cost and high-quality joining solution for electric car battery and thin-film photovoltaic cell interconnections. Through fully integrated process ICTs and statistical process control, the new system will facilitate in-line quality control, as well as a higher level of automation in manufacturing and thereby achieve higher yield and throughput for both of these high-in-demand applications. This project will help the consortium partners to increase their annual turnover to the order of between 15 and 25%, productivity between 50 and 100% and yield by 2 and 10%. The new laser processing system will be based on a pulsed platform, capable of laser pulses in the range of micro seconds to milli seconds and pulse energies of up to tens of joules able to generate both near infra-red and green wavelength through a dual-wavelength beam scanner. Real-time temporal pulse control will be developed to allow close-loop control of the monitored process. The fully-integrated system will produce continuous (i.e. not sample-based) inspection rates, with a â˜fingerprintâ™ of each laser weld captured in real time, and allow in-line process control when welding car battery and thin-film PV cell interconnections. QCOALA is focused on energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly and agile manufacturing, through the feedback of in-line information into the production line relating to monitoring and inspection, allowing for process control and continuous quality improvement, as well as waste reduction. Whereas the aim of the project is to produce smarter and more energy-efficient manufacturing, the applications addressed in the project are categorised in the green, â˜alternativeâ™ energy market.

More information
Web resources: http://www.qcoala.eu
Start date: 01-09-2010
End date: 31-08-2013
Total budget - Public funding: 3 926 091,00 Euro - 2 627 239,00 Euro
Call topic: Smart Factories: ICT for agile and environmentally friendly manufacturing (FoF.ICT.2010.10.1)
    Comment: The new laser system that will be developed in QCOALA will comprise an optimised laser source with a wavelength suited to aluminium and copper welding, fully integrated with in-line process monitoring and inspection systems to ensure the quality of products that are produced. The new system will facilitate in-line quality control, as well as a higher level of automation in manufacturing, and thereby achieve higher yield and throughput, for both these high-in-demand applications.
      Comment: The QCOALA concept will enable the development of products with improved performance. This is particularly important for applications requiring the highest level of performance and reliability in challenging conditions, essential in an application such as the electric car battery. Higher performance products will provide European manufacturers with an additional source of competitive advantage.
        Comment: The QCOALA manufacturing process combines several knowledge-intensive technologies including laser and beam delivery system integration, laser-based material processing, advanced process monitoring and inspection. The combination exploits the convergence of a number of high-tech technologies, which will create a knowledge-intensive process applicable to products of both new high-tech and highgrowth industries, such as PV, and also benefit the high-value knowledge-based traditional industries, such as car battery manufacture.
      Comment: This project hase the target to decrease the energy consumption by more than 20%.The project will be using the latest in laser technology which have a wall-plug efficiency of around 30%, which is an order of magnitude higher than that of the current ‘workhorse’ in industry, i.e. the lamp- pumped Nd:YAG laser. The QCOALA system is aligned with the European Photovoltaics Technology Platform’s objectives, outlined in their implementation plan published august 2009. The report mentions the need for a pan-European approach to solving the roadblocks of PV technology and manufacture.
    Comment: The QCOALA project brings together a diverse multi-disciplinary and multisector consortium from across the EU, generating additional innovation and cooperation, which will fuel the continuous innovation required to increase European competitiveness.
      Comment: Customised manufacturing will be facilitated by the use of a dual-wavelength laser system, beam scanning, integrated imperfection recognition algorithms that are ‘interactive’, for example, the system can be taught depending on the product/ quality level set, robust and adaptable software packages adaptable to suit the end-use.
    Comment: The project focuses on ICT for agile and environmentally friendly manufacturing. The advanced level of automation that the fully integrated (laser) welding station will offer, will allow the approach not only for mainstream high-volume manufacture, but also for small-series production. The application of the laser scanner, for instance, allows fast, versatile programming of laser paths, which can be altered for each product, if necessary. The dual-wavelength nature of the scanner will facilitate a fast change-over between the welding of copper and aluminium interconnections. Smallscale manufacturing (and to some extent large-scale manufacturing) requires traceability of products, through its production life and its in-serve lifecycle. Using the same laser source for marking will facilitate this aspect of small-series production.