Industrialized manufacturing processes today more than ever face a trade off between the highest quality standards and a economic handling possibilities. Thus, the trend of automated manufacturing processes has accelerated in recent years with digitization, interoperability and automation being are crucial factors. Innovative solutions are required to achieve an increase in efficiency.
This also applies for industrial laser processes, where the automation can be divided into the handling of the workpiece and the automation of the laser process itself. The products of PHOTON ENERGY offer the required interfaces and software components to enable a fully automated laser process.
Automation of the laser process
Automation of the laser process depends on a precise handling of the workpiece. Help of intelligent camera systems and automatic shape detection, renders this possible. For a seamless experience, pre- and post-processes such as importing the activity into the ERP-system or checking the readability of a barcode have to be defined. The configuration of process monitoring steps like these is possible with help of our intuitive laser software.
Automating the laser process, especially the positioning of the marking on the workpiece is facilitated by the automatic shape detection functionality of our PHOTONmark software. A tailored teaching process guides through the steps of defining the unique features of a workpiece. After linking the respective marking data, the shape characteristics are searched for and recognized in the marking area of the laser machine by the camera system. After successful recognition by the software, the marking is aligned correspondingly.
Depending on the machine configuration, there are different options available for capturing the image section. An internal camera whose optical patch runs through the scanner as well as an additional external camera which is recording sideways at an angle are available. Before being used by the operator or the software respectively, the recordings are adjusted by advanced image correction algorithms to allow for maximum precision.
This intelligent application of camera systems optimizes the positioning of workpieces and saves time, which would otherwise be needed for integrating fixtures or new models.
Handling of the workpiece
Handling of a workpiece includes loading as well as unloading and the positioning of the workpiece in the machine. One distinguishes between semiautomatic and fully-automatic systems, depending on the human interaction that is still necessary to operate the system.
Usage of additional freely movable axis facilitates the alignment of the workpiece. Furthermore definition and starting and end position enables a smooth workflow. A X-Y-table makes for an exact positioning of the component. Such a setup allows for markings on multiple sides of the part without having to move or reposition it by hand. Because of the large traveling distance and the spacious cabin, our laser marking machines are able to handle bulky objects with complex geometries economically, such as sterile containers.
To fully automate a process, a laser marking machine can be combined with an industrial robot. The robot subsequently loads and position a workpiece or multiple parts in the workspace. The robots of our industry partner Fruitcore robotics are able to position parts with an accuracy of 0.05mm. The system can handle individual parts as well as trays with a total weight of up to 3 kg.
Positioning in a predefined fixture enables uniform marking quality even without modern assistant technology. It is also possible to load multiple workpieces using a so-called tray-handling. Depending on the configuration the parts can either be positioned on the tray at fixed locations for the laser processing, with the intelligent camera systems of PHOTON ENERGY and the shape detection functionality of the SMART-package it is however also possible for the laser system to automatically detect the parts on the tray and autonomously apply the marking on the desired position on the workpieces. Laborious positioning of parts on the trays is no longer needed.
Cooperation with a robot facilitates an even higher level of efficiency of the laser machine and allows the operators to work more flexibly. Thus, the profitability of the whole laser process can be drastically improved.
The robot also takes over control of the fully automatic machine door and starts the laser process as soon as the workpiece is loaded in the marking space.
The laser systems of PHOTON ENERGY offer the optimal setup for collaboration with a robot because of their various hardware interfaces and software functionalities. Thereby, a smooth and easy implementation of such solutions is facilitated.
We cooperate with partner companies who supply robots at the highest quality and safety standards and for different use cases.
Of course, operation of our laser marking systems is compliant to laser class 1 regulations even when collaboration with a robot is implemented. No additional laser safety measures are necessary.