To be able to join individual aluminum parts to a side wall using spot welding when constructing an automotive body, the surface of the sheets must be freed from foreign particles or film impurities, otherwise a serious lack of fusion could arise.
Chemical cleaning: expensive and bad for the environment
Up until now, the automotive industry has relied on chemical cleaning processes in which the component is immersed in chemicals. The use, storage, and disposal of the required chemicals is not only time-consuming and expensive, but also problematic in terms of their impact on the environment. Such cleaning processes are also subject to strict safety requirements.
Plasma: the sustainable and efficient alternative
A technology developed by Fronius can help: hot active plasma removes residues precisely, quickly, and effectively. It is suitable for metals such as aluminum and steel as well as plastic, glass, and ceramic. The Acerios system generates a plasma flame on the welding torch with a temperature of up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, which a robot guides precisely over the surface at speeds of roughly 6 meters per minute.
Depending on the requirements, entire surfaces or specific areas can be treated. This significantly increases efficiency, as instead of cleaning as much of the surface as possible, Acerios cleans only those areas that actually need cleaning. This technology comes without harmful cleaning additives, meaning it is environmentally friendly and saves resources.
Fronius develops atmospheric pressure plasma
By using plasma in its welding technology, Fronius has extensive expertise in this area. The company has also been researching possible applications for plasma in surface treatment for ten years, the key to this eventually being found in the generation of atmospheric pressure plasma. This is a hot, gaseous, and energy-intensive mixture of atoms, molecules, ions, and free electrons.
When the hot active plasma comes into contact with a surface, the gas flow mechanically cleans while the plasma and resulting heat trigger a chemical cleaning process. This combination reliably removes organic residues and film impurities.
Easy integration and simple system design
The Acerios system consists of just a few components:
- Plasma torch with active cooling
- Power source with a power range from 35 to 200 amperes
- Industrial robot which guides the welding torch
- Active process gas control
- Cooling system with varying performance depending on the operating mode (from spot to continuous operation)
The system is compact and can be easily integrated into automated systems and production lines thanks to different interface variants. Pre-defined job settings shorten the training phase and make the device intuitive to use. Acerios is therefore a simple, affordable, and environmentally friendly technology for component cleaning.