Infrared for Automobile Manufacturing Applications

Infrared for Automobile Manufacturing Applications

Automobile manufacturing processes benefit from infrared technology in a number of ways. Infrared can provide process heat for panel forming, preheating, drying, curing of coatings, and many other uses. The targeted properties of infrared lamps from Heraeus Noblelight mean that heat is applied just where it is needed, and the quick heat-up of IR means that heat is provided only when it's needed, on demand.



Popular uses of IR in automobile manufacturing applications include:

Fitting of decorative foil strips

Decorative foil strips on cars

"Black out" strips around the window are a feature of many modern cars. This is usually achieved by means of sticking an adhesive-backed foil strip to the B pillar of the car. Infrared emitters from Heraeus Noblelight simplify the fitting of those decorative foil strips to the cards.

Read our application example here.

Deburring of Glove Compartments

Deburring of glove compartments

By means of a three-dimensional arrangement, the deburring of automotive interior parts made of plastics is reproducable so that the process can be automated. This method is used successfully in door handles and glove boxes.

Read our application example here.

Coating of Metal Wheels

Coating of metal wheels

Powder coating of metal parts requires a heat source that can apply heat evenly across contoured surfaces.
Infrared's high level of control makes it ideal for powder coating of metal parts on automobiles, from wheels to brake pads to body cladding parts and much more.

Activation of Adhesives

Activation of Adhesives

Infrared is an excellent means of activating adhesives in automotive manufacturing applications, as this story explains.

An infrared system from Heraeus Noblelight is helping a manufacturer achieve perfect adhesion of decorative trims on the inside of motor vehicle door panels. The plastic decorative trims are normally fixed to the panels on a production line by spraying the inside of the panel with an adhesive and then applying the trim. However, when the process started to experience problems with the adhesion, it was soon established that the prime cause of the problem was the fact that the adhesive often tended to part-cure between the spraying of the panels and the application of the trims. To solve this, they used a purpose-built adhesive, which requires the addition of reactivation heat after it has been applied, to ensure optimum adhesion.

After discounting hot air blowers as a means of providing the reactivation heat, because of their high power consumption and lack of controllability, it was decided to investigate the potential of infrared heating systems for this particular application.

Trials proved so successful that a complete IR system, using carbon heater technology, was eventually installed. This consists of two 8kW carbon medium wave cassettes, which combine the heating efficiency of medium wave infrared for this type of application with the controllability allowed by low thermal mass carbon fiber lamps, which have an extremely fast response time of around one second.

In operation, the cassettes are arranged in two stations directly above the production line, where they apply the necessary heat to the panels, which have been previously sprayed with the adhesive. They are automatically switched on only when necessary and the power is applied for a timed period. The surface temperature of the adhesive is monitored by a pyrometer and an alarm is sounded if this does not reach a set value, at which point the timer is overridden and the IR system is operated until the pre-set temperature is achieved.

Since installation, the company has found that the highly controllable and energy efficient IR system has continued to optimize the performance of the adhesive to ensure a consistent and repeatable bond between the door panels and the trims.

Features:

  • medium wave Carbon heater, matching to product
  • fast response times allow control
  • contact free and efficient heating

Technical Data:

  • Infrared system with Carbon Infrared lamps, two cassettes with 8kW each
  • Control of surface temperature by pyrometers

Shaping of Materials

Shaping of materials

Infrared technology from Heraeus Noblelight is effective for materials shaping as part of the overall automobile manufacturing process. Here are a few specific examples of ways in which IR is helping make this process more efficient:

  • A short wave infrared oven from Heraeus Noblelight is being used by an automotive door panel manufacturer to remove wrinkles and creases in the fabric after molding. During this molding and cooling process, the fabric can move within the mold and this cause unwanted creasing. The response time of the short wave heaters, which transfer large amounts of heating energy in a short time, is virtually instantaneous, so that they can be switched off immediately, should there be any danger of fabric burning.
  • An auto manufacturer required process heat to soften and remove creases from leather and/or textile car seat covers. Their existing system made use of a low-efficiency metal heater. Installation of a Carbon infrared single-tube heater from Heraeus Noblelight increased efficiency and quality, and gave operators increased power control over the process.
  • A manufacturer of precision components for the automotive industry uses infrared heat solutions from Heraeus Noblelight for three different and unique applications. A modular infrared system is the central component in a preheating system; shortwave infrared lamps are used in a drying zone; and specially-designed omega lamps are used for preheating in another part of the process.
  • The manufacturer of automobile airbags was dissatisfied with the level of scrap (unusable fabric) produced on its production line. The airbag cushions – made of a specific type of nylon fabric – have a smooth coating of silicon applied as part of the process; the silicon allows the completed airbag to be folded tightly in its compartment without sticking to itself. (Sticking could case improper deployment and potential facial damage to passengers.) A mediumwave carbon infrared system from Heraeus Noblelight provided even drying of the coating across the entire surface of the fabric, allowing faster production throughput and greatly decreased rejection rate.

Other examples include:

  • Forming of headliners
  • Forming and laminating of back dashboard/parcel shelf
  • Thermoforming interior and exterior trim components
  • Manufacturing of interior trim
  • Stress relieving of molded components
  • Heating plastic seat covers prior to perforating
  • Heat staking of door panels, dashboards and front grill assemblies
  • Flocking of door seals
  • Forming of carpets
  • Removing creases from seat covers and door panels
  • Drying cavity wax
  • Embossing of fabric for door panels and dash assemblies
  • Heat stretching of loudspeaker covers

Additional applications

  • Powder coating or paint curing of oil filter housings, engine blocks, cylinder heads, pistons, other motor parts, steering columns
  • Welding of fluid reservoirs, filter assemblies, air filter boxes, automotive batteries
  • Drying flux powder for radiators, battery plates, insulating coating on windings for starter motors
  • Brazing of radiators
  • Heat shrinking of protective tubes over wiring looms
  • Heating wiring looms for easier mounting
  • Airbag assembly
  • Preheating steel prior to punching
  • Vulcanizing of tire tread
  • Fixing of sound deadening material
  • Silvering and protective coating on mirrors
  • Laminating of glass
  • Drying screen printed ink on car glass
  • Heating glass prior to PU-foam application of convertible tops to improve flexibility
  • Heating chrome strips
  • Bonding of roof rack
  • Powder coating aluminum wheels and rocker panels
  • PVC Coating of sill panels
  • Curing coating on rubber seals
  • Preheating doors and door seals
  • Activating adhesive on protective trim/strips
  • Activating adhesive on door panels
  • Drying lacquer on loudspeaker covers
  • Drying and curing: car body painting, spot repair, hydro wax protective painting, reflective coating on light assemblies, protective powder coating on brake discs, paint on fuel tanks, paint on plastic bumpers
  • Bonding of friction material on brake part materials
  • Welding filter tube to fuel tank
  • Welding light cluster assemblies
  • Curing of coatings on bitumen sound deadening material

As this (partial) list illustrates, virtually every part of a car comes into contact with infrared during its manufacture. It's important to select the right system to suit the application. Heraeus Noblelight's application engineers work closely with you to develop a solution that meets your specific needs. Infrared heat is an effective and efficient means of applying process heat in many other industries.

Your application is not listed? Infrared can do much more! Ask us!

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