[Image: Cavan Images/Getty Images]
The Germany-based international high-tech manufacturer Trumpf Group has entered into a “strategic partnership” with Cellforce Group, a German developer and manufacturer of high-performance battery cells and applications for the electric-vehicle marketplace. Under the partnership, Trumpf will bring its laser technology to bear in a new Cellforce production facility currently under construction near Reutlingen, Germany, and slated to go into operation in 2024.
Cellforce was launched in June 2021 as a joint venture between the German automobile manufacturer Porsche and CustomCells, a developer of specialized lithium-ion battery cells. The venture is initially focused firmly on limited production of next-gen battery technology for high-performance vehicles. Indeed, on announcing the formation of Cellforce last year, Porsche leader Oliver Blume described the venture as “how we shape the future of the sports car.” Porsche currently owns a 72.7% stake in the Cellforce venture.
A “decisive tool” in e-mobility batteries
In a press release describing the new strategic agreement between Trumpf and Cellforce, Trumpf Laser Technology CEO Christian Schmitz highlighted the importance of laser technology in electric-vehicle battery manufacture generally. “The laser is the decisive tool for efficient production of battery cells, without which e-mobility would really not be possible,” Schmitz said.
Among the production areas in which lasers play a key role are various laser welding steps, precision cutting, annealing and drying of electrodes, and removal of materials and coatings. In all, more than 30 different laser applications are used in battery cell production, according to Trumpf. The company added that it “works with all major cell manufacturers” and that last year it sold more than a thousand lasers for use in production of electric vehicles.
Testing new solutions
Markus Gräf, Cellforce Group COO (left), and Christian Schmitz, CEO of Trumpf Laser Technology. [Image: Trumpf Group/Cellforce Group]
For the Trumpf–Cellforce strategic agreement in particular, the two partners hope that early access to cutting-edge Trumpf technology will advance Cellforce’s goal of—in the words of its chief operating officer, Markus Gräf—producing “one of the most powerful battery cells in the world.” For its part, Trumpf will bring its “experience in the production of battery cells to this partnership,” Trumpf’s Schmitz added. “Cellforce should benefit from our new application solutions at an early stage and can test our latest laser technology.”
In keeping with the early emphasis on batteries for high-performance vehicles, the plant Cellforce is building in Reutlingen will target an initial annual production capacity equivalent to batteries for only around a thousand vehicles (at least 100 MWh). But given battery technology’s position as a linchpin in moving more generally to electric mobility, the company’s statements suggest ambitions that go well beyond the narrow arena of sports cars.
“We want to raise the energy density, the performance, as well as the fast-charging capability of the battery cell to a new level,” said Gräf.