FARMINGTON, Conn. – TRUMPF, a leading high-tech company, has successfully developed a laser process that reduces brake disc abrasion and fine dust emissions. The high-speed laser metal deposition process is an affordable additive manufacturing technique utilizing lasers for repair and coating applications. Notably, the company is already collaborating with prominent automotive manufacturers and suppliers to test its implementation in mass production.
The innovative laser process effectively lowers the amount of harmful particulate matter in the air. Around 50% of particulate emissions from road traffic originate from the wear and tear of brakes, tires, clutches, and road surfaces, with brake dust accounting for almost half of this amount. Brake discs coated with high-speed laser metal deposition release significantly less particulate matter compared to traditional brake discs.
Besides reducing fine dust emissions, the laser process also minimizes wear, offering substantial market potential. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported that 9.1 million cars were produced in the country in 2021, and over 275.9 million vehicles were owned and operated. Brake disc replacements, usually required after 31,000 miles, could become less frequent with this new technology.
Electric vehicles, in particular, can benefit from this innovative process. High-speed laser buildup welding provides corrosion protection, crucial for electric vehicle brake discs, which rely primarily on regeneration when braking. Consequently, these brake discs are more susceptible to flash rust, resulting in reduced braking performance and potential premature replacement.
Henrikki Pantsar, the managing director of TRUMPF Inc. Laser Technology in Plymouth, Michigan, stated that global manufacturers are already using TRUMPF laser systems to produce electric car batteries, e-motors, and high-performance electronics. The high-speed laser metal deposition for brake discs offers another advanced manufacturing technology for future vehicle production, especially electric cars.
The laser cladding principle enables the formation of pore- and crack-free layers through a complex interaction between laser and metal powder. The process’s efficiency lies in the powder and energy input, allowing brake manufacturers to apply the coating more rapidly and effectively use the energy for layer formation. The groundbreaking process has already received several accolades, including the Berthold Leibinger Innovation Award.