The challenge, presented by a large supplier of automobile frame assemblies, was to gain a understanding of what combination of 13 separate parameters created the optimum laser pierced hold in steel. These holes were required for mounting holes and passages in hydro-formed frame rails. Because of the nature of the hydro-forming process these holes had to be added after the rails were formed. The laser pierce process, however, had a large number of parameters (such as focal distance, laser power, oxygen purity, etc.) that needed to be adjusted to provide the optimal results. The criteria for judging the best cut was the surface finish of the hole produced. Because of the large number of parameters that needed to be adjusted a huge number of sample cuts would be required to provide the best hole.
The solution was to create a Design of Experiments matrix utilizing an Excel spreadsheet that allowed the optimum settings to be determined with only a few dozen samples. The result was a huge savings of both time and money as the samples were taken more quickly and the project was completed much faster. Obviously, a test stand was also required to create these sample holes. A laser, laser cutting head, and robot were leased for three months so the entire test process had to be completed within the strict deadline.
Our founder created the test stand with two separate fixtures, as well as programs for the robot, cutting head and laser.