Just the right voltage (for autonomous driving)
With the Supfina Spiro F5, TDK produces innovative micro-inductors
From ABS brake support to lane departure warning and steering systems to semi-autonomous driving, hardly any new car today can do without a wide range of safety and comfort systems. These systems rely on a wealth of sensors to work properly. Therefore, the right supply voltage in the automobile is needed. This is the field where TDK Electronics comes in at its development and production site in Heidenheim.
At the microscopic level, innovative production processes for inductors are developed and tested. Together with Supfina as a partner for individual surface finishing solutions, they developed a complex grinding process that can withstand multiple materials and the highest quality requirements of the automotive industry
Under the project name "Initial-Line", TDK Electronics is working on the new development of micro-inductors for the voltage adjustment of sensors. The Heidenheim plant focuses particularly on the rapidly increasing number of sensors in cars due to assistance systems and further progress in autonomous driving. The inductors' heart are microscopically sized copper coils manufactured with state-of-the-art machines. An iron core is inserted through a ferrite-containing compound and sealed in the next processing step.
The journey to inductivity continues with electroplating. First, however, the previously encapsulated surface must be reopened at the contact points and the copper contacts provided with a precise grind. The combination of plastic and copper to be removed makes the grinding process a particular challenge. Both materials have a lubricating effect and can thus clog the grindstone or lead to high wear. This is where the successful collaboration with Supfina comes in: the company was looking for a partner who could develop, test and produce a complex grinding process at short notice and in direct consultation with TDK. Furthermore, it was essential to take the machining of different materials and the enormous demands of the automotive industry into account.
In the cooperative partnership, Supfina was able to convince as a solution provider. Based on the Spiro F5 fine grinding machine, they jointly developed and optimized an individual grinding process in the Supfina test center that met all the challenges. After a large number of tests and measurements, the combination of the right grinding process, optimum process parameters and the correct grinding material succeeded in preventing lubrication and the resulting potential damage to the grinding stone. Moreover, with its high surface quality, the Supfina system has also easily mastered the enormous demands of the automotive industry since its commissioning in April 2021. So TDK's unequivocal verdict is also no surprise: "Perfect!" says Mr. Lux (TDK), adding: "We are particularly pleased with the partnership approach and the solution-oriented service from a single source."
The final test series are currently underway at TDK before the newly developed workpieces from the Initial Line are delivered to customers. For example, the micro-inductors for use in automobiles must meet the highest requirements: From long-term function tests (up to 3000 hrs. running time) to tests with high humidity, extreme temperatures or temperature changes, to maximum vibration, especially in self-resonance, the parts must endure a whole series of the toughest quality tests. The current production line is designed for around one million parts per year, and an expansion to up to 400 million workpieces per year is already in the pipeline. An expansion of the grinding process is also being considered: with automated loading and unloading, the Supfina Spiro can be integrated into the production process even more efficiently and economically.
Supfina also believes that the cooperation with TDK Electronics to be a complete success: "We see the decision in favor(ae) favour (be) of our proposal and the cooperative partnership as confirmation of our positioning as a solution provider. Hence, our claim to develop the best individual surface solution for every scenario. ", says Achim Fehrenbacher, responsible product manager at Supfina. At the same time, the cooperation with TDK also proves the flexibility of the Spiro fine grinding series, which with the F5, F7 and F12 models offers a proven basis for the most diverse production requirements.
With locations in Germany, the USA and China, Supfina Grieshaber is one of the world's leading solution providers and manufacturers of surface finishing systems. The company employs more than 200 qualified and highly specialized people. The product range includes machines and equipment for superfinishing, double disk grinding, fine grinding, flat finishing, and automated solutions. In addition, the company offers integrated and innovative systems based on several decades of experience, including comprehensive services.
About TDK Electronics
TDK Electronics (formerly EPCOS), a subsidiary of the TDK Group, develops, manufactures, and markets electronic components and systems under the TDK and EPCOS product brands, focusing on the technologically demanding growth markets of automotive and industrial and consumer electronics as well as information and telecommunications technology. TDK Electronics' broad product range includes capacitors, ferrites and inductors, piezo and protection components, and sensors. As a result, the company is very well positioned globally to realize the right solutions with its customers beyond standard products. To this end, TDK Electronics employs 23,600 people at around 20 development and manufacturing sites worldwide and uses its close-knit sales network. In fiscal 2021 (ending in March), TDK Electronics generated around EUR 1.4 billion in sales.