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|| Storz, T.; Altvater, A.; Hofmann, J.; Scharfer, P.; Fleischer, J. & Schabel, W. (2018), The Smart Battery Maker – a concept for automated flexible and agile production of cells. Tagungsband zur International Battery Production Conference (IBPC) 2018, Hrsg. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Arno Kwade, S. 18-19.
Present day battery production happens almost exclusively in large production lines where each machine is responsible for one step in the process chain. This results in low cycle time and low production costs per unit, but also in a largely inflexible production. With an increasing number of different applications and electric vehicle models, requirements for the battery systems and each battery cell varies in size and materials used. To test and judge the performance of a novel battery cell type before going into production, research and performance tests on ready-to-use batteries are inevitable. Prototypes are usually assembled manually at high costs, with no possibility to scale up their production and with typically low reproducibility.
To handle this problem, a „Smart Battery Maker“ (SBM) pilot equipment, which produces battery cells with varying dimensions and materials, is being developed. The goals of the SBM are the proof of concept of fully automated prototype machinery that executes various production steps with a high reproducibility and the adaption of cell production steps to agile manufacturing. Different-sized pouch-cells are to be manufactured by the SBM equipment in small batches under industrial production conditions with minimal change of tools or equipment.
To achieve this goal, the partners, namely KIT (wbk, TVT-TFT, IAM-ESS) and Fraunhofer ICT, will agree on different electrode and separator materials as well as different cell formats to be processed. The processability and reproducibility of overall production processes with the considered materials and cell formats have to be checked and verified. A prototype coating equipment for agile electrode production will be designed and built, as well as a compact robot cell that handles the production steps of single-sheet stacking, contacting and pre-sealing. To prevent any unwanted interactions with water, a dry room atmosphere and microenvironments will be considered for cell assembly. Electrode and separator sheets will be delivered to the SBM robot cell by a novel material transportation system that guarantees a protective microenvironment throughout transportation. Potential safety risks will be identified and quantified to ensure lawful operation. Quality assurance regarding reproducibility, safety and overall battery cell quality will be implemented. This includes a Failure Mode and Effects Analysis of all considered processes. Furthermore, the battery cells produced by the SBM will be tested on electro-thermal stability and will be compared to commercially available Lithium-Ion battery cells (e.g. by EUCAR Hazard Levels).
By validating the SBM pilot equipment, the partners prepare the ground for a possible adoption of this agile concept by the battery cell industry. Production scale-up is easily manageable by using multiple robot cells, flexibility is given by the possibility to quickly adapt each equipment to different cell dimensions and materials.