One of the biggest hurdles in any automated joining system is the ability to find and track the joint in a consistent nature. Joint quality can be poor due to a number of variables including the standard variance in upstream parts supply or simply poor joint design from either a process or product perspective. Firstly, there is the variation that is inherent in single parts and the overall stack up.
As material selections in automotive manufacturing move further into the high-strength realm, along with the more prevalent usage of difficult-to-weld materials such as aluminum, developing robust processes for joining these materials becomes ever more critical. Adaptation of technologies such as real-time seam tracking, gap bridging, beam oscillation, and integrated clamping to laser-related processes allows for them to be used in a more mainstream approach.
The drive to make vehicles lighter and more efficient while retaining durability and usefulness has led to a push to increase the use of aluminum in the building of vehicles, more so than ever before. While aluminum has been a key material in vehicle production for nearly a century, recent changes by major car makers such as General Motors and Ford have really increased the use of it.