Battery manufacturing is an ever-expanding industry that is constantly adapting to new technology. The rising expectations of battery technology generates innovation at a rate seldom matched by other industries. A battery production line must be designed with flexibility in mind to deal with new and changing formats, rigorous quality testing, and produce stable and reproducible products.

Flexible Production

There are a number of battery types in production today, most of which are in a near constant state of research and development, which requires a flexible production line. Manufacturers experiment with new alloys, mixtures and slurries endeavoring to increase output and efficiency or reduce raw material consumption. The ability to adapt an existing production line to a new product or a new variation of an existing product is crucial.

With manufacturing flexibility in mind, the patented Zaxis eVmP (Electronic Variable Metering Pump) system allows for simple electronic adjustment. eVmP pumps are designed for high accuracy, low volume dispensing of electrolytes, slurries, and lubricants used in the manufacturing of several battery types, including lithium ion, button cell, AAA, AA, C and D. Internal pump components of the eVmP are made of chemically inert, sapphire-hard ceramics, making them ideal for dispensing corrosive KOH electrolytes, as well as viscous, abrasive slurries. eVmP pump heads are designed for millions of maintenance free cycles. Flexible production is the core of the eVmP system.

Increased Quality Requirements 

Quality assurance is an important factor in any industry but the growing dependence on electronic devices has excessively raised the expectations of battery quality by consumers. When working with electrolytes, slurries, lubricants, and other fluids, containment is critical. These abrasive and corrosive fluids can cause major damage to electronic devices through the smallest of leaks. To identify a leak on a sealed enclosure, such as a battery, a Chamber leak test is used.

A Chamber leak test is used to find leaks in sealed packaging or sealed devices without an opening to use for filling. A reference volume is filled to a pressure, after pneumatic isolation the volume is then introduced to the test chamber. A known good part will fill to the desired test pressure, while a part with a gross leak will not reach test pressure. This difference between the test pressures determines the pressure tolerance. A part that doesn’t fill to the test pressure within the pressure tolerance is a gross leak and will fail the test. If the part passes this gross test, the testing continues with a typical pressure decay test step to detect fine leaks.

The Isaac HD by Zaxis is a multi-function leak tester built for a flexible production environment. The Isaac HD can store up to 100 different programs for simple product changeover during production. The modular design of the Isaac HD allows custom configurations for highly specialized tests. To run a Chamber leak test a drawer fixture is required. The less negative space between the drawer’s chamber and the products, the faster the test can be performed. Zaxis will custom build drawer chambers to the unique specifications of the product being tested.

Stable/Repeatable Mass Production

Creating a production process that can produce dependable and repeatable products has never been more important, especially considering the dynamic requirements of battery manufacturing.

The Zaxis Dual Channel eVmP’s positive displacement pumping action maintains better than 1% accuracy and 0.5% CV(Precision) enabling highly reproducible results for mass production. The Dual Channel eVmP pump design integrates ceramic valve-less piston pump technology with Zaxis’ patented precision stepper motor control and integrated electronics, built into an IP45 rated, 316SS enclosure, which is suitable for bench top or integrated automation equipment. The dual channel configuration of the eVmP increases production output, and fully integrates power supply and communication cables. The Zaxis eVmP system has dispensing capabilities that can handle metering from microliters to 9 liters per minute.  

The Isaac HD by Zaxis contains a small, rigid internal test volume of less than 1cc. and a 24-bit analog to digital converter which enables high sensitivity and excellent reproducibility. Additionally the modular design of the Isaac HD with custom-built drawer fixtures produce a tailor-made leak tester that can achieve a resolution of 0.00001 psi with extremely repeatable results.

Conclusion

The expectations of the battery manufacturing industry are rising, and production lines must be built to meet those expectations. Creating a flexible production line that contains rigorous quality testing and precision equipment is pivotal to any battery manufacturer. Using the Zaxis eVMP for dispensing and the Zaxis leak test products for leak testing, battery manufacturers can ensure they remain flexible and productive, while maintaining high quality and reproducibility.