Every year worldwide more than 10 billion holes in car bodies – necessary for the e-coat painting process – must be closed for corrosion protection. This is typically done manually by pushing bulky plastic plugs into the holes: an extremely time-consuming as well as physically demanding and unhealthy task for workers. Per shift, they push more than 3,500 plugs to seal the holes, often working in an overhead position. By doing so, they need to apply a thumb pressure per plug equaling 7 kilogram – an enormous ergonomic strain. The alternative: sealing patches from the adhesive manufacturer tesa, which are applied by a robot quickly and reliably.
Close cooperation with Porsche
The car manufacturer Porsche AG, together with their long-term supplier tesa, has developed an innovative robot-assisted manufacturing process at their headquarters in Zuffenhausen. The fully electric Porsche Taycan is the first vehicle in the world to use a new automation technology for efficient hole covering,thus optimizing the entire production process. By summer 2021, Porsche AG will implement this new concept also in their paint shop at the Leipzig plant. "The cooperation with Porsche is an excellent example of how tesa, as a long-term partner of the automotive industry, drives innovations and offers future-oriented solutions to bring value to our customers," explains Angela Cackovich, Board Member Direct Industries at tesa SE.
The heat-resistant, lightweight tesa® sealing patches also promote e-mobility
Compared to conventional plastic plugs, tesa® sealing patches feature a variety of advantages. While plugs always have to match perfectly, it is possible to cover holes of different dimensions with one patch size. This reduces the overall complexity and saves time. On top, tesa® patches can provide additional benefits. The base product, tesa® PunctureGuard, ensures corrosion protection via perfect sealing combined with high mechanical strength and good noise dampening properties. Additionally, these durable adhesive patches that are only one millimeter thin yet extremely tough and last a car life long, are significantly lighter than the approximately six-millimeter plastic plugs. This is of great relevance for e-cars, as every extra gram means a loss of range. Our special product tesa® FireGuard, developed for the so-called Battery Foot Print, withstands flames of up to 500 degrees Celsius for six minutes, protecting the passenger compartment to allow driver and passengers to get out of the vehicle in case a defect battery catches fire.
Flexibility and speed thanks to robot technology
"Our automatic application unit, tesa® EfficienSeal, was developed utilizing tesa expertise and guarantees customers that holes are effectively sealed," explains David Caro, Corporate Vice President of the tesa Business Unit Automotive. "Also, the positioning accuracy is significantly higher compared to the manual process. The sealing operation becomes 100% effective and can be performed in half of the time compared to the traditional process."
Using this innovative automation technology, tesa automotive customers benefit from a high degree of flexibility: Depending on vehicle type – and the related number and sizes of holes in the car body – the robot can exchange end-effectors quickly depending on the sealing patch type and size needed.