Expected impact


Decrease in the consumption of high cost and critical materials

Due to its excellent thermal and electrical properties, copper is the third most frequently used raw material in Germany and in the world. JOIN’EM directly aims at decreasing the consumption of this high cost material by partially substituting it with aluminium, which costs only about 30% compared to copper

The manufacturing systems engineering sector is aiming at better performing machine components; increased integration of functionalities provides a competitive advantage and, in the transport sector, weight reduction is pursued.

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Copper is used heavily throughout various industrial sectors; saving this material will thus have a remarkable im- pact in terms of cost and material savings. According to a study by FRAUNHOFER, 18 million tons of copper were sold to manufacturing companies worldwide in 2008. Future prognoses predict an increase in demand by a factor of 3 to 3,5 until 2050. This means that in 2050, nearly 30% of the known copper resources will have been used up. In 2008, Europe was responsible for a market share of 19%, making it the second largest user after Chi- na. This data corresponds well with specifications by the International Copper Association (ICA) and the Interna- tional Copper Study Group (ICSG). More than 12% of the sold copper (i.e. 2,2 million tons) were used in the transport sector. In 2006, another 8% were used for heating and cooling applications in white goods.

A higher level of automation and lower production times compared to current technologies.

The technologies currently applied for joining copper components in the regarded application cases are flame or induction brazing, laser welding, clinching, adhesives, and vulkan lockring ©. According to the experience of the end-users in the consortium, many of these techniques imply a large amount of manual work and significantly depend on the individual worker’s skills. This leads to large quality variations in the produced parts. In contrast to this, EMW can easily be automated. There are only a few parameters that have to be adjusted once the process is designed and the equipment has been optimised. These are typically the capacitor charging energy and voltage and the capacitance of the pulsed power machine. Both parameters can be set at a single value and then the process is completely steered by the machine control and the capacitor charging device.

Ecologically friendly products and resource efficiency

The new joining solutions will help realising improved lightweight designs with further weight reduction and a better performance. This will help decreasing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, as exemplified in the following.

Over the last 20 years, Europe’s transport sector was responsible for approximately 30% of Europe’s energy consumption making it a key player in climate and resource aspects. Successful developments have already been achieved.
Since 2000, a trend of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions (compared to the emissions in 1990) can be observed in Europe; a trend which must be maintained and in some countries significantly increased to achieve the climate protection target set in the Europe 2020 targets.

Energy consumption in EuropeEnergy consumption in Europe
According to the literature almost all car manufacturers will miss the European carbon emission reduction targets for 2020. Cutting vehicle weight is described as an indispensable measure for meeting the targets and avoiding the risk of incurring penalties related to failure. Replacing heavy metals such as copper by lightweight materials wherever possible is the most direct approach to achieve this. According to the aforementioned study, the use of lightweight materials will significantly increase over the next 2 decades for the automotive, aviation and wind energy sectors.

Especially when thinking about the steadily increasing number of safety, comfort and entertainment features that have to be included in a car’s electrical and information system, the potential of reducing weight via substituting copper by aluminium can even be expected to rise in the future. Considering electromobility, the necessary bigger battery, braking and damping systems will lead to increasing vehicle weight, making lightweight design strategies and the use of lightweight materials, especially in electrical systems, even more important. However, promoting electromobility approaches can be regarded as the only possibility to achieve the medium term climate targets.

At least 30% improvement of the product performance without increasing the final price

The manufacturing industry is limited to sub-optimal product designs, because joining of dissimilar metals is very difficult or too expensive. Development and implementation of EMW will allow designers to combine metals or to integrate new metals. Companies in transport, machine tool building, metal products, and other sectors will have the possibility to follow new trends in product design and produce components and products at top level.

  • EMW allows fast, efficient and cost-effective joining of difficult or non-weldable material combinations
  • Big potential of decreasing the production times

EMW allows fast, efficient and cost-effective joining of difficult or non-weldable material combinations. JOIN’EM will lead to a reduction of the production costs, thus strengthening the competitive position of companies. Eco- nomic advantages can be expected as result of the production at lower cost because of the better quality assur- ance by using the automatic EMW process.

Additionally, there is a big potential of decreasing the production times. The joining technologies currently used in the state of the art (e.g. brazing or lokring) are relatively time-consuming. In case of EMW, the duration of the joining process itself is in the range of several tens to a few hundreds of microseconds and thus they are negligi- ble in comparison to the duration of e.g. a brazing operation. Auxiliary process times are required for handling of the parts before and after the joining process and for charging the capacitor to the required charging voltage and energy.
JOIN’EM aims at achieving process times in the range of 10 s to 15 s. Compared to the current brazing process this is correlated to savings in the process time of approx. 40-60% and even compared to the faster lokring technology still savings in the process time of approx. 20-50% are aspired by implementing EMW into industrial production.

Ergonomics and occupational health and safety

EMW will provide significant improvement of the working conditions. It is environmentally and operator-friendly, so the security risks are minimised. Compared to currently used technologies, EMW:
  • needs no fluxes or other additives containing toxic and hazardous elements like fluorides, lithium or zinc chlorides, boric acid, fluo- or tetraborate, borax and boron, causing health risks for the workers,
  • does not produce any heat, radiation, gas or smoke affecting the health and wellbeing of the workers,
  • can be operated via remote control. This means, that even if the environment of the joining process is hostile (e.g. exposition to radioactivity or toxic material/gas, etc.), it is not necessary that the worker enters this environment. As described above, the potential of automating the process is excellent, so that handling of the workpieces can be fully taken over e.g. by robots. The operator panel of the machine can be placed in a separate and safe room.