Carbon dioxide laser-processed components find their way into almost all areas of a typical vehicle.
Modern automotive manufacturing uses a broad range of different materials, including plastics, metals, textiles, glass, and rubber. High-end and luxury vehicles may feature state-of-the-art carbon fiber alongside traditional materials such as wood and leather. Processing such a diverse range of materials requires a versatile tool, and this is where the carbon dioxide (CO2) laser comes in. Invented in 1964, the CO2 laser is one of the oldest laser technologies, yet it remains a mainstay of modern manufacturing and finds a plethora of uses in the automotive industry.
CO2 lasers are available with output powers ranging from a few tens of watts to many kilowatts, making them useful for a variety of different processes; low power levels are used primarily to mark and engrave, while higher powers can cut and weld with ease and precision. As a result, laser-processed components find their way into almost all areas of a typical vehicle, both interior and exterior (FIGURE 1).