AK Clinchen - beginning of mechanical joining technology in Germany

The first energy crisis in the 1970s, which resulted in supply shortages of petrol and driving bans, led to the consideration of reducing fuel consumption by reducing vehicle weight. One possible approach was the use of lightweight materials such as aluminium. At that time efforts to use aluminium instead of steel in the production of car bodies failed, as no joining processes existed that could be used for the economic and reliable production of car bodies made of aluminium materials in large series.

At that time, Dr. Ostermann, who was then working as a research employee at VAW-Bonn and who was chairman of the "Joining" working group founded in 1977 in the DFB, now EFB, reported at a research meeting on a method for joining sheet metal demonstrated in the USA. Here, sheets are separated locally and joined by crimping. Dr. Singh at Audi NSU AG and Prof. Hahn in Paderborn took up this suggestion, which led to the acquisition of a corresponding system from America at the LWF in 1980/81. This marked the beginning of corresponding research work in the field of mechanical joining technology at the LWF in Paderborn.

The thematic approach of developing processes suitable for series production for the cold joining of car body structures based on local forming was fascinating for the material aluminium as well as for coated steel materials. Especially with regard to multi-material structures, this type of joining technology was considered to offer great potential. However, at the time it was difficult to obtain financial support from public funders to pursue the research approach. The main work in the time from 1980 to 1985 was carried out at Audi in Ingolstadt and at the LWF in Paderborn. Further efforts to research mechanical joining technology were made by an initially very small circle of people, which was founded under the name "AK-Clinchen" in 1985 with chairman Dr. Singh.

The history of the "AK-Clinching" was presented by D. Schröder, former chairman of the
DVS-EFB-Gemeinschaftsausschuss “Mechanische Fügetechnik”, in 2006 at the celebratory colloquium for the 30th anniversary of the LWF. For the interested public, this lecture is available in written form here.