Application engineers are a funny breed. They get their kicks from solving real-life manufacturing challenges – and the thornier the better! They like to get up close and personal with an application and help those having trouble to find the right way to weld, mark, cut, bond or machine a part. They also get a great deal of satisfaction from fixing a process that is taking too much time and affecting output (and the bottom line), one that results in unnecessary scrap or one that is out of limits. If the solution doesn’t work out the first time, they stick with it until they develop a one that works.
The key to success is making the right choices at the start of the project
Developing a rock solid production process before you run your first part is the number one factor that will lead to success. All of the decisions made at the front end of a project are critical to achieving the required production outcome. This includes material selection, part fit-up, and tolerances, as well as selecting the correct technology and equipment to perform the process. Going down the wrong road because you don’t take the time to develop the right process wastes a lot of time – and is massively costly.
AMADA MIYACHI application engineers support this front end effort and also help customers at the back by guiding them select the righ equipment for a robust process. Our ten full time application engineers aren't “one trick ponies” nailed to their desks in an application laboratory. They are constantly out in the field, with years of experience successfully implementing equipment into production environments.
And consider AMADA MIYACHI'S own onsite application technical center: 25,000 square feet of lab space situated in a new 85,000 square foot manufacturing facility. The technical center is equipped with eleven application-specific labs that support each of our product lines. With almost 100 different samples going through the labs each month, our application engineers have definitely seen a thing or two!
In addition to flexible technology selection, customers can see equipment options within each technology; resistance welding choices, for example, include AC, CD, HF and Linear DC. On the laser processing side we have Nd:YAG and fiber welders. For cutting and micromachining, we have setups of exactly what would be purchased (lasers, enclosures, motion). The experts at the application labs work to arrive at the solution that best fits the application – and budget.
Application engineers shine a light on their labs
Adam Kurzawinski, AMADA MIYACHI's application lab manager, has been either laser welding or electron beam welding for more than 25 years. He has seen a lot of material changes and variety. Adam comments, “For a long time we simply welded a lot of stainless steel. Now we see a lot of dissimilar material and aluminum alloy welding.”
Kurt Smith, a 9-year laser welding engineer, sees the variety of available lasers driving more welding applications. “We’ve seen new welding applications and markets emerge directly from new laser technology. This is particularly true in battery manufacturing, where the single mode fiber laser has enabled tab to terminal connections of dissimilar materials at very rapid rates. We have been seeing more and more battery welding applications in our labs and it has been a lot of fun helping these customers extend the capabilities of batteries that will be used in all manner of devices.”
In the medical industry, components are getting smaller and smaller. Vicky Buckley - also known as the “micro queen” - has worked for 26 years in our resistance welding and reflow soldering lab and has bonded every material there is. She specializes in parts that are really tiny. Vicky’s day consists of a lot of interesting tooling and custom electrode machining to be able to weld these minute parts. Vicky quips, “Welding 0.0005-inch diameter conductive wires is all routine, as long as you don’t drop them!”
Todd Hagerman, previously at Delphi, was a customer before joining AMADA MIYACHI. As a resistance guy for more than 30 years, Todd has been around to observe how the development of inverter closed loop power supplies and pneumatic weld heads – and now electronic welds heads – have been key in moving resistance welding forward, particularly into small parts joining. “With closed loop feedback, the inverter power supplies can make changes during the weld pulse to the current or voltage according to how the resistance changes part to part. But that’s only half of the equation: the weld head is equally as important and must maintain uniform force during the weld.”
Javier Valdez, the resistance welding “battery king,” and a resistance and reflow application engineer at AMADA MIYACHI for 27 years, notes, “Customers can come to us with almost any joining requirement. We have many options for them, including whether to choose resistance/reflow or laser. In most cases the decision is straightforward according to the application and production needs. But, if not, we have you covered.”
Wayne Lui, who can be found hanging out in the seam sealing lab, has a complete glovebox system that enables testing parts under controlled atmosphere. Application testing using the exact equipment that will be purchased means no surprises later.
Finally, we have micro tube cutting and micromachining labs that have available a wide range of laser sources, including microsecond, nanosecond, picosecond, and femtosecond in a variety of wavelengths so our engineers have all the laser technologies at hand to provide the optimal laser solution for the customer’s application. These labs are supported by two graduate degree level application engineers with the in-depth material interaction and optics knowledge necessary for these specific types of applications.
The thousands of welding power supplies and hundreds of laser processing systems produced by AMADA MIYACHI each year reflect the countless examples of how our application engineers solve manufacturing challenges to enable our customers to successfully produce their products.
So, let me end as we began – it all starts with the application. And if you want to start with your application, take advantage of our free application evaluation process. Just fill in a few pieces of information on the form provided and send us at least 10 sample parts. Then watch as our experts process them to your exact requirements.
Upcoming blog posts are going to give you some real live case studies of applications we have worked on, including those in the red hot areas of battery packs and medical device manufacturing.