Cars are getting smarter, capable of sensing when to adjust speed for the traffic flow, when to turn on windshield wipers and when to make minute adjustments to everything from engine performance to lighting requirements.
And the more automakers use precise sensors to measure and react to changes, the more opportunities welding equipment maker Bielomatic Inc. of New Hudson, Mich., is finding for its precision laser welding units.
Sensors used in harsh environments - inside fuel systems or near the engine - are encased in nylon for protection, President Frank Buck, president and chief executive officer, said at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress 2004, held March 8-11 in Detroit.
``These [sensors] have delicate wiring and circuit boards,'' he said. ``They can't take vibration or hot-plate welding.''
Sensors are used to trigger air bags, inside oil-sending units and to track systems in gasoline-powered and diesel-fueled engines. Some vehicles pack in more than 50 different sensors, and that number may climb with additional gadgets coming on the market.
An adaptive headlight produced by Denso Corp. of Kariya, Japan, for instance, adjusts not only for turns, providing light around dark corners, but also for speed, since the distance requirements are different for drivers traveling at 25 mph and 65 mph.
Additional air bags to protect during side impact also will add demands for more sensors to activate those cushions.
``A lot of these sensors are being used in harsh environments, and they need good sealing systems,'' Buck said.