Laser welding expert Blackbird Robotersysteme celebrates 15th anniversary
by David Fleschen
Blackbird Robotersysteme GmbH, manufacturer of system solutions for remote laser welding, is continuing to grow as it looks back on 15 years of success. During this time, the company has become established as a reliable partner to the automotive industry, particularly in the body-in-white (BIW) and seat production segment. Since 2015, the laser welding expert has also been sought after on the international stage as a solution provider in the growth market of electric mobility, to produce batteries and electric motors (in hairpin welding, for example). To accelerate its growth and expand its global presence, the company embarked last year on a partnership with ABICOR BINZEL, a leader in developing and producing gas-shielded welding torches for manual and robot welding. The cooperative relationship for sales and customer service extends to numerous markets outside the German-speaking countries and has already proven its value and impact in various projects.
Founded in 2008 as a startup and spin-off of TUM (Technical University of Munich), Blackbird pioneered the development of controls for ‘on-the-fly’ laser welding. The team realized at the time that laser welding could be used with robots to achieve dramatic productivity gains in industrial manufacturing, especially the automotive industry. To enable precise processing of a laser scanner mounted on a robot, the robot’s path must be incorporated into the controls of the scan system. Exactly this on-the-fly (OTF) laser welding has been perfected.
The company has forged ahead with expanding on this core competency, which is what makes Blackbird an acknowledged expert for remote laser welding today. The services offered include smart control technology for scan systems and the scan heads themselves, which can be incorporated into laser cells to interact with handling devices such as robots or linear axes. Extremely user-friendly software and supplementary process monitoring solutions help to ensure that users can dependably achieve optimum processing results.
The company has retained that same spirit of discovery to this day, working closely with universities, research institutes, and industry partners through various cooperative research initiatives. As one sign of its innovative drive, the company won third place in the Innovation Laser Award 2022 competition for a laser scan solution with integrated OCT (optical coherence tomography) process monitoring. Existing clients include major players in the automotive sector, leading battery manufacturers, and well-known clients from other industrial sectors that value the mid-sized company’s flexibility and special expertise in high-speed welding.
“The secret to our success is twofold. First, we listen closely to our clients, and over the years, we have developed products that meet and exceed their requirements and expectations – in pre-, in-, and post-process monitoring, for example. Second, we use AI, artificial intelligence, to play a leading role in analyzing and preparing large volumes of data,” says Karl Christian Messer, General Manager of Blackbird Robotersysteme GmbH. “We are proud of everything we have accomplished as a team in the past 15 years, but we don’t want to stop there. We see our biggest growth markets as lying in the fields of electric mobility, battery production in general, and hydrogen as an alternative energy source.”
The company has about 50 employees in Garching, near Munich, Germany, and in Shanghai, China. Thanks to flat hierarchies, it enjoys ultra-fast time to market and is in an excellent position for future growth. Another important driver is the cooperative relationship established in 2022 with ABICOR BINZEL, which encompasses the fields of sales and customer service in numerous international markets.
Source and Photo: Blackbird Robetersysteme