Sunday, November 9, 2014

Assembly Technology Improvements in Battery Manufacturing

The National Alliance for Advanced Technology Batteries (NAATBatt) sponsored a workshop on how to reduce the cost of manufacturing lithium-ion batteries in the United States n April 2013.

 “Manufacturers are experimenting with automating various aspects of the assembly process to reduce hand-assembly activities.

Traditionally, flat-stacked batteries have been difficult and expensive to produce. An electrode is like a piece of foil, the separator is even thinner yet and can behave like the kitchen plastic wrap, sticking to itself or wrinkling. In a cell, the electrodes and separator must be aligned very precisely, which is exceedingly difficult and time-consuming with these thin materials.

The machines currently used to create flat-stacked batteries are robotic pick-and-stack devices. They use optical alignment technology to precisely place each individual component onto a stack. No matter how big or small the cell is, the stacker adds one layer at a time, at an average rate just under one second per layer.

A typical electric vehicle battery may have 200 layers or more (50 electrode pairs and 100 layers of separator). Building just one at this rate takes more than 3 minutes (200 seconds). In comparison, a similar sized traditional wound cell typically takes just 30 seconds or less to make.

This is why manufacturers are still using  the winding process, despite its drawbacks. Cost-effective technology to manufacture the highest-performance cell designs has to be developed.

Porous Power recently developed a high-throughput cell production system called the Matrix Assembly System. It allows simultaneous stacking or winding of dozens or hundreds of cell assemblies, rather than using current one-at-a-time production techniques.

Industry is also woring in the area of  battery testing capabilities and reduction of development time, The steps in the process are first improvement in the technology; second by bringing down production costs; and third  standardization meaning wide spread use of the method in the organization.

Palladium Energy recently implemented a new program involving robotics and automation on  one product with high volumes, Most of the automation was centered around mechanical, dimensional and electrical functional testing. The company is happy with the results and thinking how to apply it economically to products with lower volume.

Palladium Energy specializes in engineered custom batteries for a variety of industries, ranging from medical to defense.

Palladium's has taken up the manufacturing challenge of deployment of lean production tools and flexible processes, It is trying to develop quick-change procedures, small-batch pull systems and mixed-model manufacturing in production cells focused around product families.”
1 May 2013

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