Industrial Laser Trends

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Integrating laser markers : An interview with Paul Rochette

Mr. Paul Rochette, Director Business Development for Primary Metal - Laserax

Paul graduated in Mechanical Engineering. He has over 20 years of experience in product management and international sales of technological solutions in the energy and metal industries. Paul is known for his professionalism. He has led numerous restructuring, growth and sales diversification projects and always exceeded  expectations.
Let’s jump right in, what is the first thing to consider when integrating a laser marking system to an existing plant?

Paul Rochette: Among the first thing to consider is the material to be marked. Fiber laser marking systems are better adapted to mark most metals. Others, like  CO2 laser marker, will do better on plastics and complex organic materials. Either will mark with contrast that allows the use of commercially available scanners or imagers.

The geometry of the surface to be marked is also important. Flat immobile surfaces are the easiest to mark. But curved, slanted and multi-leveled parts as well as surfaces that are moving on an assembly line can be marked with the latest laser technologies. Finally, there are laser solutions that include a vision system and allow for more flexibility. This latter technology is what Laserax brings to the table.

What’s driving the cost of a laser system?

P. R.: There is a tradeoff to be made between the power of the laser, the marking time and the price of the laser system. Marking time has to fit within a predefined cycle time. The main factor that influences the marking time is the amount of information that is required on the label. Another is the power of the laser; more powerful lasers can mark the same information much faster. But more powerful lasers are also more expensive.

With our field experience, we found some tricks that can reduce marking times. For example, some aesthetic parts of the label could be done in a lighter shade of gray, which takes less time to mark compared to darker grays or black. Perhaps only the outline has to be marked; it all depends on the specific requirements of the client.

Once the information on the label has been optimized, the geometry of the part can’t be changed. Is there anything else that can be done to reduce the cost of the laser system?

P. R.: Anything that can be done to increase the time available to mark the surface might help. We had some clients that went as far as tweaking the sequencing of their line to merge the wait times at the marking station. Doing so allowed us to use a less powerful laser, thus reducing the price of the laser system.

Is there a way to make laser integration and installation easier considering the security that laser technology requires? 

P. R.: Laserax has recently put in place a new modular approach that includes three categories to make laser technology more accessible and easier to integrate. You need to consider: 1- the laser itself, 2- the safety enclosure, 3- the options to make the system more user-friendly and easier to set.

Some clients might decide to go with a complete solution that would include the laser, the enclosure and some options. Others might prefer a hybrid solution with only a laser and an enclosure. And still others will only purchase the laser as an OEM component of a more complete solution.

Let’s talk about the lasers themselves. What are the specifics we need to look for when the time comes to buy a laser? And how does the part geometry affect the decision ?

P. R.: 2D laser markers can mark flat surfaces that are positioned at a +/- 3 mm. 3D laser markers can be used on parts with known geometries (positions and shapes) when the marking surface is positioned at a distance of +/- 70 mm. For parts with  geometries that are unknown (either position, shapes or both), Laserax has a state-of-the-art laser system. It is a 3D laser marker equipped with a vision system. It can mark parts that are immobile, reliefed parts and parts that have a position or shape that is not controlled--but that is still within a +/- 70 mm envelope.

How can you make sure that health and safety is not an issue when integrating a laser system?

P. R.: To help and support safe laser integration and uses, Laserax has designed a series of standardImage: Laserax's Standalone Safety Enclosure enclosures and options. These enclosures ensure that the system is a Class 1 in terms of safety. In other words, it protects the workers from the beam of the high-power laser.

Some of our standard options, such as air knives and industrial dust extraction units, ensure that the laser system manages dusts and fumes. Other options, such as the HMI and the barcode reader, help make the system more user-friendly. They track the quality of the markings, and manage the communication with the clients’ systems.

We also have options that have been designed to make the integration even easier. A good example of that is our laser cabinet. Most of our clients take the cabinet options. The cabinet is dust and water-resistant. It is cooled by AC or by a chiller. We put everything that is required to control the laser in it. For fiber lasers, we also place the laser source in there and the laser head goes in the enclosure.

You can expect new options and enclosures to be added to the mix as time goes on.

 


About Laserax

Laserax is a laser system manufacturer that provides efficient, innovative and safe solutions for the most demanding industrial applications. We rely on a team of laser technology experts to offer a complete range of products and services for marking, cutting and welding applications.


 
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