The Innovation Award Laser Technology 2008 has been given to Daimler's Bertold Hopf, on behalf of the RobScan project team.
RobScan – the Robot-guided remote Scanner for laser beam welding – is a new laser beam welding process, which has been developed for vehicle body construction by Dipl.-Ing. Bertold Hopf and Dr Klaus Debschütz and their project team within the Daimler.
Hopf is head of material and production at the technology department of Daimler in Sindelfingen. Debschütz is head of materials, manufacturing, concepts – body at Daimler’s Group Research in Ulm.
The RobScan system combines different hardware components with Daimler-developed process technology and control software. It represents a new approach to laser beam welding using the known advantages of laser welding and extending it with new possibilities in process technology and a new control system to use the functionality of the remote scanner.
It was thus possible to increase the welding speed and improve the welding quality. The RobScan process combines the high speed and precision of scanner optics with the flexibility of a robot.
The technological impact of this technology includes: reduced manufacturing costs for a body in white production; improved quality by better welding results, reduced flange width and increase of stiffness; decrease in cycle time by welding on the fly; improved quality assurance by use of a 100 per cent online quality control system; and flexibility in production.
Hopf applied to an open call for proposals as a representative of the RobScan project team and more than 300 participants of the International Laser Technology Congress AKL´08 attended the awarding ceremony to see the winners pick up €10,000 in prize money.
The Innovation Award Laser Technology is a European research prize awarded at two-yearly intervals by the associations Arbeitskreis Lasertechnik and the European Laser Institute (ELI). The award can be given to an individual researcher or on an entire project group, whose exceptional skills and dedicated work have led to an outstanding innovation in the field of laser technology. The scientific and technological projects in question must centre on the use of laser light in materials processing and the methods of producing such light, and must furthermore be of demonstrable commercial value to industry.