As a result of the announcements by automobile manufacturers to replace combustion engines by electric motors in the medium term, there is an enormous demand for high-performance batteries with ever greater energy densities and shorter charging cycles. In addition to the already established manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries (LIB) in Asia, many new projects are already known, especially in Europe and North America, and new battery factories, so-called ‘giga-factories’, are already in various stages of realization.
Many factories are built in close cooperation with European car manufacturers. Asian production lines are sometimes used as blueprints for the planning of new production facilities. But also the German mechanical engineering companies with their high level of competence have good chances to qualify as suppliers of the new production lines.
The Wiehl-based machine manufacturer, Kampf Schneid- und Wickeltechnik GmbH & Co. KG offers, together with its subsidiary Kampf LSF GmbH & Co. KG, innovative solutions for LIB production.
The non-technical observer may ask himself the question: “Batteries and slitting and winding technology – does that go together? The answer is simple and more than clear: “YES – it doesn’t only match, but lithium-ion batteries cannot be produced at all without a reliable knowledge in slitting and winding technology”, says Michael Strathmann, Sales Manager for Energy & Technical Applications at KAMPF and Kampf LSF.
“Web-shaped materials – i.e. “foils” are the carrying materials of the batteries. The electrodes are coated aluminum and copper foils, which are separated in the batteries with a special plastic foil – the Battery Separator Foil – to prevent short circuits. KAMPF has more than 100 years of experience and is a worldwide recognized competence and technology leader in the processing of demanding materials such as paper, various plastic films and laminated film composites and the above mentioned metal foils. So it is obvious that the manufacturers of the LIB production lines use machines and components from KAMPF, especially when know-how, quality and reliability are required”.
KAMPF sold the first special slitting and winding machine for battery separator foil (BSF) more than 10 years ago. Consistent further developments led to the new BSFSlitter. This machine, with many technical solutions specially developed for the processing of these very sensitive films, is successfully used by leading BSF manufacturers. The latest development is the direct combination of the BSFSlitter with the KAMPF BSFWinder and an integrated material handling between the machines. The concept has been convincing; therefore four of these units are currently being delivered to a new plant of a Korean company in Eastern Europe.
Machines and components from Kampf LSF are used in the production and processing of LIB cathodes and anodes. “Our cooperation with Hirano Tecseed, the leading Japanese manufacturer of LIB coating systems, has already convinced the first well-known customers in Europe” explains Dr. Stephan Witt, CEO of Kampf LSF and COO at KAMPF in Wiehl. “In our plant in Laußig, in addition to numerous slitting machines for LIB applications, automatic turret unwinders and turret rewinders, each with an integrated slitting unit for three cathode coating lines, are just about to be accepted”. The control of the components and the integration into the overall system are realized in close cooperation with the company Lebbing engineering & consulting GmbH. Like KAMPF, Lebbing is a company of the Jagenberg Group. At present, preliminary acceptance tests are taking place at the Laußig plant near Leipzig, Germany. Kampf LSF considers this a good project situation and is well prepared for further orders.
Many LIB types require the cathodes and anodes to be cut into narrow strips after calendering. For this application Kampf LSF and KAMPF have jointly developed the slitting machine type EvoSlitter. Initially designed for pilot plants and small series production, this slitter is now also used in regular production. The EvoSlitter achieves the required high slitting qualities with very precise slitting units. Each machine has two or three mobile slitting cassettes, which are easily exchanged when the slitting program is changed. This means that the machine, which was deliberately built very compactly, impresses with its high flexibility. In addition to four web cleaning systems after the slitting section, the machine also has two winding stations. The friction winding shafts ensure the correct winding tension at all windings, and with the sensitive contact system and individual contact rollers, the machine guarantees top winding quality.
Currently the KLSF designers are working on the next expansion stage of the EvoSlitter. “We do not want to give away too much yet”, explains Sven Lasch, COO at Kampf LSF since September 2020, “but we can already say that we will integrate further modules, such as inspection systems. Furthermore it is our goal to be prepared for the upcoming larger working widths”.
The market for energy storage production already plays an important role at KAMPF and Kampf LSF and is also a central point in our future planning. “We have built up good market and process knowledge at our sites in Wiehl and Laußig – this knowledge should be used and expanded together. For this reason, we merged the sales group ‘Technical Applications’ in Wiehl with Kampf LSF sales a few months ago and entrusted Mr. Strathmann with the management of the new sales cluster “Energy”, explains Dr. Witt. “By bundling the activities, we want to be even closer to the market and to our customers in the future. Not least due to the LIB process experience of employees of a former LIB production facility in Saxony, who now work for Kampf LSF, we are very well positioned for further developments”.
The new Kampf LSF COO Sven Lasch is a proven practitioner and has many years of experience in manufacturing and engineering. “Our main focus here at the Laußig location will be on the energy sector in the coming years. Furthermore we will expand our range of products and services in the field of winders for digital printing machines and we will keep components for equipment such as laminating and lamination machines in our program. We have a clear commitment, not only from KAMPF but also from the Jagenberg Board of Management, to the continuous expansion of our site”.