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WeldWatcher: Quality Assurance in the Laser Material Processing

The 4D WeldWatcher is best suited as a reliable and complete solution for quality control in laser welding, cutting and brazing. This online monitoring system is used in many areas of industrial production:

  • Automobile construction
  • Automotive
  • Power generation technology
  • Electrical engineering
  • Aviation
  • System construction
  • Consumer goods

Here you can find our image brochure.

The WeldWatcher

Partially ionized metal vapour is created during laser welding, cutting or soldering. This escapes from the weld pool and emits a broadband light, the so-called process light. The WeldWatcher measures this process light using a photo-electric sensor. By doing so, typical features, such as the beam flux density, spectral components, time or progress are analyzed and used for quality control.

The components of the WeldWatcher are, in addition to the sensor electronics, an industrial computer with a measurement processing unit, as well as interfaces for data storage, data transfer and communication with the PLC (Programmable Logic Controller). The evaluation of the current measurement signals is performed by comparison with the stored reference signals using the envelope or threshold method.

The WeldWatcher sensors are integrated into the laser with an adapter. For newer lasers this is usually available, or it can be retrofitted simply and affordable by the laser manufacturer. The sensor can be programed easily and can be adapted quickly to any monitoring task. By fitting the sensor into the laser, contamination, damage or misalignment are prevented. In addition, only one WeldWatcher is required per laser, even if it is used in time sharing with several optical fibers in a range of processing stations. In such cases, the process light fed back by the active fiber into the laser is passed before the resonator to the WeldWatcher sensor. However, for special applications one or more sensors can be built directly into the processing head.

The WeldWatcher communicates with the welding system, depending on the customer’s wishes, via the industrial bus systems ProfiBus®, ProfiNet®, DeviceNet®, EtherCAT® or other protocols. For simple applications, digital I/O modules can also be used. Where the customer wishes, a signal exchange can also be performed through an application-specific protocol. With its high-speed evaluation and communication the WeldWatcher can also be used for time-critical applications without clock-cycle loss.

As part of the automatic evaluation of the process signal in the serial production, the result is shown with distinguishing colored marks in one or more welding group images. The graphical visualization shows the operator the test for the welding seam that is notified as being faulty. The WeldWatcher can also be used for a parameter optimization during set-up work, where the change to the process parameters is immediately reflected in the signals.

The evaluation software operates under Windows and is available in a range of languages. The menu guidance was developed in close collaboration with our customers. Particular attention was given to the requirements of the machine operators, so as to achieve a high level of system acceptance. The clearly structured user interfaces make the operator training easier. Various password-protected levels allow a tiered access to each release stage.

A core element of the data processing is a database, which can store several million data sets for each application. The database operates maintenance-free on the FIFO principle (“first in, first out”). With extensive subroutines, it is possible to retroactively display component-specific monitoring data again. Visualization stations installed at reworking stations can call up data from one or more WeldWatchers via a network and display it grouped for the components being reworked. Use-specific security routines are available for the export and long-term storage of the data.

With its open software architecture the WeldWatcher can already be used optimally for many standard applications. In addition, and depending on the customer-specific requirements, additional functions can be implemented quickly and affordable into the software.

Where the customer desires, modifications and settings for the WeldWatcher software can be performed by 4D using remote support. This guarantees a fast and affordable service for the customer.

 

 


WeldWatcher Technology

Technical Components:

  • 19″ industrial PC
  • Windows 7 or Windows 10 operating system
  • One line interface (only one sensor cable up to 75 m in length)
  • Programmable sensor
  • One sensor system (no space required at the optics)
  • Automatic operation and set-up operation for process optimization
  • Application-specific evaluation algorithms
  • Direct, observable visualization of the results
  • Long-term data storage
  • PLC interfaces (configurable)
  • Server/client operation

Additional Functions:

  • Protective glass monitoring
  • Automatic data transfer for operational data recording
  • Display of all results for a component at reworking stations
  • Back-up/emergency laser operation
  • Automatic adjustment at the various processing steps of a system (welding, smoothing)
  • Evaluation for pulsed welds
  • Database requests for the error status of a sub-assembly

The WeldWatcher Advantages

Sensors

  • Fast and easy installation, no adjustment required
  • No system rebuilding required
  • Standard adapter in the laser with manufacturer approval, partially retro-fittable
  • One sensor per laser is sufficient, also at multiple processing stations
  • No sensors in the welding area for the optics, no risk of collision
  • Automatic setting (for a range of welding operations)

Data Transfer / Signal Connection

  • Error and interference storage with state messages
  • Time stamps, error classes, warning limits, subsequent defects
  • System Security
  • Database (FIFO)
  • Data transfer tools for the central server / MDE / BDE
  • Standardized interfaces for system management

Software / User Interface

  • User-friendly, clear user interface under Windows
  • Color display of the seam positions and errors (welding group)
  • A range of access levels with a staged password protection
  • Automatic switching for components / welding stations
  • A range of languages

System Upkeep / Maintenance / Costs

  • Maintenance-free sensors (no protective glass replacement, no adjustment)
  • No complex image-processing software required
  • Automatic calibration and training
  • Fast commissioning, low follow-up costs
  • Remote maintenance option

Special Applications

Laser Brazing

For laser brazing the process monitoring with WeldWatcher includes the combined evaluation of process radiation and wire feeding. Faults, such as height and lateral misalignment, wire supply faults or volume and geometric deviations can be identified immediately and notified to the system controller.

Laser Cutting

During laser cutting the puncture process and the subsequent cut are monitored and evaluated and system faults are identified.

Pulsed Welds

A further major area of application for the WeldWatcher is the monitoring of pulsed welds. The requirement for a visual component inspection lies in the large number of pieces for brief weld durations. The WeldWatcher enables a fast and automatic monitoring of each individual pulse (single welding) or a series of pulses (burst). Through this, it is possible to immediately identify material and location deviations of the joining partners and process-related welding errors.

Combination Processes

The WeldWatcher can also be used for the process monitoring in laser combination processes, such as hybrid welding. It is also suitable for varying monitoring tasks. Through its programmable sensors, which can be automatically adjusted within a few milliseconds, it becomes possible, for example, to switch from deep welding to downstream smoothing welding.

Remote Welding

Welding with scanner systems provides an additional alternative to the traditionally used process for bodywork or sheet metal processing.

FAQ

Normally it only takes a few minutes to integrate the sensors into the laser, so that production only has to be interrupted briefly.

The WeldWatcher operates maintenance-free. Neither additional sensor adjustment nor replacement of sensor protective glass are necessary.

None, as no moving parts or wear parts (protective glass) are used.

Remote maintenance is offered as an option for all systems installed worldwide. In addition, we offer consulting and training, which through our experience will result in optimized processes and increased productivity.

No, for most laser types only one WeldWatcher is required per beam source, even if it is used in time sharing with several optical fibers.

The number is unlimited. For some customers over 500 different weld seams are monitored by only one device.

All signals and information for a monitored weld seam are automatically stored in a database. This operates on the FIFO principle and can also store production data for longer periods. The monitoring results are, as wished, sent automatically to a production data acquisition (PDA) system.

All WeldWatchers can, as the customer wishes, be equipped with one bus-master card or several slave cards, which then communicate with the system controller.

All monitoring results can be visualized in welding group images. Several images can be saved for each WeldWatcher. The active image in each case is automatically loaded in the foreground. The results are shown in the welding group images with various marks (e.g. red “not correct”, green “correct” or grey “not welded”).

No, all WeldWatchers can be used as a server for one or more visualization stations, on which the monitoring results can then also be displayed. The data transfer takes place over Ethernet (TCP/IP). Advantages for the user: Fewer screens are required in the production, as relevant information can be summarized part-specifically.

For all backup cases 4D offers functionally capable, automated solutions. The spectrum ranges from switching on the sensor on a replacement laser through to mutual securing of several beam sources.

The current protective glass contamination for each processing head or robot can be monitored at the same time. Some customers also run the laser controller software on the WeldWatcher PC. By doing so, an operating panel PC and/or monitor can be omitted.

Solutions

We are constantly developing the WeldWatcher further: To do so, we are in a continuous dialog with our customers to make adjustments and new developments to meet production requirements.

Service

Our Services Include:

Advice

We will provide you with the most detailed consulting on the full range of beam sources and on drafting and reviewing specifications and feasibility studies.

Procedure and Process Optimizations

Often the parameters for a laser manufacturing process are determined in the laboratory in advance. For an optimal processing efficiency these parameters must be optimized when preparing the series component. For this, 4D offers expert production support on site to minimize errors and create a secure process window through quality evaluation, and researching the causes of errors.

Training

The range of training offers doesn't just cover specific information for products sold by 4D, but also general training for the laser material processing. Training is provided at the customer’s site, in order to offer employees a training with the most practical relevance to their products. In the course of this training our colleagues explain the wide range of possible parameters for laser welding and provide training on concrete measures for process optimization.

Project Process and Management

As part of the project planning and coordination for new production installations, 4D offers a complete package, including drafting specifications, reviewing tenders, project management and machinery acceptance.

Industry Sectors

The WeldWatcher is highly versatile and can be used in all industry sectors. Whether for laser welding, laser material processing, diode lasers or fiber lasers, the WeldWatcher monitors all laser processing stations involved in welding, brazing or cutting. To do so usually one WeldWatcher per laser is enough – even for monitoring hundreds of seams or points.

Areas of application include automotive parts for suppliers to the automotive industry, e.g. manufacturers of car seats, airbags, body components or vehicle electronics. The 4D WeldWatcher is commonly used for the quality monitoring for components and electric motors used in consumer goods and electronics manufacturing.

 

References

Satisfied customers and suppliers are the best reference. In the following you will find a brief selection from the list of firms, with whom we have a successful and mutual business partnership.

A Selection from our List of Customers

ABB, AREVA, ASIC, Audi, AWL, Behr, Blum, BMW, BOA, BorgWarner, Bosch, Brose, Comau, Continental, Danfoss, EADS, ElringKlinger, Faurecia, FFT, Ford, GM, Grundfos, Hella, Hyundai, IWM, Kirchhoff, Lear, Magna, Mercedes, Nissan, Opel, Preh, SEAT, Sitech, Skoda, Toyota, Trumpf, ZF TRW, Tyco, USK, Van-Rob

About Us

4D Ingenieurgesellschaft für Technische Dienstleistungen mbH was founded in 1995 by Dr. Jens Mommsen and Dr. Martin Stürmer. The company is based in Isernhagen near the Hannover-Langenhagen airport. 4D provides a strong partnership in the fields of laser technology and laser material processing thanks to its years of experience. 4D develops, manufactures and distributes systems for the observation and monitoring of laser processes for the quality assurance.

The 4D strategy is consistently focussed on customer-oriented solutions. This is based on constant contact between the user and the developer, as well as the timely and expert handling of projects and commissions.

Quality Management

The basis of sustainable quality management and effective quality assurance for 4D is the ISO 9001. Customers, suppliers and partners alike acknowledge a quality management based on ISO 9001 as accredited evidence of capability and competence for a company. Furthermore, it represents a valuable tool for documentation of quality assurance and continuous improvement.

ISO 9001:2015 Certificate

Careers

4D Ingenieurgesellschaft für Technische Dienstleistungen GmbH, based in Isernhagen near Hanover, develops, manufactures and distributes systems for the observation and monitoring of laser processes for quality assurance. The main area of application of these QA-systems is laser welding in vehicle manufacture, automotive products and the electronics industry. Our customers include well-known firms in Europe, America and Asia. With its focus on laser technology 4D works in an industry of the future.

Tips for Applications

Would you like to reshape your future career? You can find tips for applying to 4D here. 

Which positions are waiting for you

Our open positions listed below give you an up-to-date overview of the areas, in which we are currently looking for new colleagues. If some job vacancies are shown there for a longer period, it is possible that there are multiple positions to be filled.

We also look forward to initiative applications, which do not relate to our current advertisements.

How to apply

Preferably by email to bewerbung(a)4d-gmbh.de.

What should you include?

We look forward to your digital application folders, including a c/v and your certificates. We would be happy to hear about your salary expectations and your earliest possible start date in your application, as well as receiving information about your motivations.

Feedback

We will be in contact with you promptly.

Data Protection

Your application will be handled in confidence. All data is stored securely and only for the purpose of the application. The storage period is 6 months – unless would like to remain in our applicant pool for longer, or not at all.

If you do not wish your data to be stored, please indicate that in your application.

What we offer

We are a motivated team in an area of business focussed on the future with an international field of activity. Our collaboration is characterized by a flat hierarchy and collegial interaction. You can look forward to technical challenges and a creative working environment with us, in which the individual responsibility of our staff is highly valued.

Contact us!

If you have any questions, we look forward to hearing from you by email: bewerbung(a)4d-gmbh.de

Contact

Dipl.-Ing.Hans Jörg Ohler
Managing Director
Tel.: +49 511 23 59 470
Dipl.-Ing. (FH)Christoph Franz
Managing Director
Tel.: +49 511 23 59 470

4D Ingenieurgesellschaft für Technische Dienstleistungen mbH

Im Torfstich 5
D-30916 Isernhagen

Tel.: +49 511 23 59 47- 0
Fax: +49 511 23 59 47-11

Email: info(a)4d-gmbh.de

Person responsible for maintaining this site:

4D Ingenieurgesellschaft für Technische Dienstleistungen mbH

Im Torfstich 5
D-30916 Isernhagen

Tel.: +49 (0)511 23 59 47- 0
Fax: +49 (0)511 23 59 47-11

Managing directors:
Dipl.-Ing. Hans Jörg Ohler
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Christoph Franz

Head Office: 30916 Isernhagen HB
District Court Hanover HRB 120592

VAT No.: DE173254180

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Design and Realization
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Name and contact details of the controller and the company data protection officer:

4D Ingenieurgesellschaft für Technische Dienstleistungen mbH

Im Torfstich 5
D-30916 Isernhagen

Tel.: +49 511 23 59 47- 0
Fax: +49 511 23 59 47-11
E-Mail: info(a)4d-gmbh.de

Collection and saving of personal data and the manner and purpose of its use
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• Website from which the access takes place (referrer URL),
• Browser used and, if applicable, the operating system on your computer and the name of your access provider.

We process the stated data for the following purposes:
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• Evaluating system security and stability, and
• For other administrative purposes.

The legal basis for data processing is Art. 6(1)(f) GDPR. Our legitimate interests follow from the purposes of data collection listed above. Under no circumstances do we use the collected data for the purpose of drawing conclusions about you as a person. What’s more, we use cookies and analysis services when you visit our website. You can find more details about this under the points ‘Cookies, Analysis tools’.


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Sharing of data  
Your personal data is not shared with third parties for purposes other than those listed below. We only pass on your personal data to third parties if:

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These cookies enable us to automatically identify that you have already visited us the next time you visit our website. These cookies are automatically deleted after a defined time. The data processed by cookies is required for the aforementioned purposes to maintain our legitimate interests and those of third parties in accordance with Art. 6(1)(f) GDPR. Most browsers automatically accept cookies. However, you can configure your browser in such a way that no cookies are saved on your computer or a notification is always displayed before a new cookie is created. The complete deactivation of cookies can, however, mean that you are unable to use all of the functions of our website.


Analysis tools

Tracking-Tools

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Google Analytics
For the purpose of the needs-based design and ongoing optimisation of our website, we use Google Analytics, a web analysis service from Google Inc. 
(https://www.google.de/intl/en/about/) (1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA; hereinafter ‘Google’). In this connection, pseudonymous usage profiles are created and cookies (see point ‘Cookies’) used. The information that is created by the cookie regarding your use of this website such as

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This information is used to evaluate the use of the website, to compile reports on website activities and to perform other services associated with the use of the website and the Internet for the purposes of market research and the needs-based design of these websites. This information may also be made accessible to third parties, where this is legally required, or where third parties are commissioned to process this data on Google’s behalf. Under no circumstances is your IP address combined with other Google data. The IP addresses are anonymised so that it is not possible to allocate them (IP masking). You can prevent the installation of cookies by setting your browser software accordingly. However, we would like to point out that it may not be possible to use all of the functions of this website in this case. You can also prevent the collection of data generated by the cookie and related to your use of the website (including your IP address), as well as the processing of this data by Google, by downloading and installing a browser add-on (https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout).  Alternatively to the browser add-on, particularly for browsers on mobile devices, you can also prevent collection by Google Analytics by clicking on this link. An opt-out cookie will be saved that prevents the future collection of your data when visiting this website. The opt-out cookie only applies to this browser and our website and is saved on your device. If you delete the cookies in this browser, you need to save the opt-out cookie again. You can find more information on data protection in connection with Google Analytics in the Google Analytics help (https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/ 6004245?hl=de).

Matomo
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Rights of the data subject 
You have the right:

  • in accordance with Art. 15 GDPR, to information about your personal data that we process. In particular, you can request information about the purposes of processing, the categories of personal data concerned, the categories of recipient to whom your personal data has been or will be disclosed, the envisaged period for which the personal data will be stored, the existence of the right to request rectification or erasure of personal data or restriction of processing of personal data or to object to such processing, the right to lodge a complaint, information on the source of the data where it has not been collected by us, and the existence of automated decision-making, including profiling, and any meaningful information about the logic involved;
  • in accordance with Art. 16 GDPR, to obtain without undue delay the rectification of your inaccurate or incomplete personal data saved by us;
  • in accordance with Art. 17 GDPR, to obtain the erasure of your personal data saved by us without undue delay where the processing is not required to exercise the right of freedom of expression and information, to comply with a legal obligation, for reasons of public interest or to establish, exercise or defend legal claims;
  • in accordance with Art. 18 GDPR, to obtain restriction of processing of your personal data where the accuracy of the personal data is contested by you, the processing is unlawful but you oppose the erasure of the personal data, and we no longer need the personal data but you require it for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims, or you have objected to the processing in accordance with Art. 21 GDPR;
  • in accordance with Art. 20 GDPR, to receive the personal data concerning you, which you have provided to us, in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format and to transmit this data to another controller;
  • in accordance with Art. 7(3) GDPR, to withdraw the consent you have granted at any time. This will result in us no longer being able to continue data processing in the future based on this consent and
  • in accordance with Art. 77 GDPR, to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority. In general, you can do this by contacting the supervisory authority in your habitual residence, place of work or at our company headquarters.


Right to object 
If your personal data is processed on the basis of legitimate interests in accordance with Art. 6(1)(f) GDPR, you have the right in accordance with Art. 21 GDPR to object to the processing of your personal data on grounds relating to your particular situation or where the objection is against direct marketing. In the latter case, you have a general right to object, which is implemented by us without stating a particular situation. If you would like to exercise your right to withdraw or object, it is sufficient to send an e-mail to: info(a)4d-gmbh.de


Data security 
Within the website visit, we use the widespread SSL procedure (Secure Socket Layer) in conjunction with the respective highest encryption level supported by your browser. This is generally 256-bit encryption. If your browser does not support 256-bit encryption, we instead use 128-bit v3 technology. You can identify whether an individual page of our website is transferred encrypted by the displaying of a closed key or lock image in the lower status bar of your browser. We otherwise employ suitable technical and organisational security measures to protect your data from accidental or deliberate manipulation, partial or complete loss or destruction, and against unauthorised access by third parties. Our security measures are constantly improved in line with technological advancements.

Validity and changes to this data protection statement
This data protection statement is currently valid and dates from May 2018. It may be necessary to amend this data protection statement due to the further development of our website and services by means of or based on amended statutory or official requirements. You can access and print the latest data protection statement at any time at: www.4d-gmbh.de