Since the invention of the automobile, the manufacturing process has evolved greatly. It has improved efficiency, cost numbers, time, and quality among other things. In today’s global market, one of the top priorities in a car purchase is overall build quality. And ultrasonic welding is at the top of the food chain in terms of build quality, and is something that the upcoming 2014 Cadillac ELR utilizes. For example, the battery itself has 200 ultrasonic welds. This technology gives the battery system an 8-year/100,000 mile warranty, which should help consumers warm up to the technology found in the ELR, and the Chevrolet Volt, as well. Skeptics of electric vehicles – go home, you’re misinformed.
“Ultrasonic welding is a far superior joining technology in applications where it can be deployed,” said Jay Baron, president and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research. “Cadillac’s innovative process will produce batteries with superior quality compared with traditional methods – and do it more efficiently. This is one example of technology development that is becoming pervasive in today’s world class vehicles.” CAR spends much time researching the latest in automotive manufacturing, and holds an annual briefing seminar weekend with many presentations on such innovations.
How does it work? Well, it’s not as complicated as you might think. Ultrasonic welding requires specialized tools called an anvil and horn to apply ultra-fast mechanical vibrations to the battery’s copper and aluminum electrodes. This creates mild heat through friction, resulting in a weld that does not require metal-melting-point temperatures or joining material like Elmer’s glue or something.
At the Brownstown manufacturing plant, the ELR’s advanced 16.5-kWh lithium-ion battery system is made using this ultrasonic welding.