29 September 2008

Laser Marking Polyetherimide (Ultem) Connectors

Polyether Imide, also trademarked as Ultem®, is a high-temperature thermoplastic (rated for continuous use in temperatures up to 356 °F) that features high tensile strength along with good flame and chemical resistance. Polyether Imide is commonly specified for aerospace, automotive, medical, and packaging applications. Its flame resistance combined with low smoke emission makes it an important material for moulded portions of aircraft interiors.

This application demonstrates the feasibility of laser marking electrical connector housings moulded from a Polyether Imide formulation that includes a 10% glass fill for reinforcement. The marking set-up consisted of a 25 W sealed CO2 laser, an FH Series marking head (equipped with a 125 mm lens), and the WinMark Pro laser marking software. The FLA125 focusing lens provides a 180-micron (0.007”) diameter spot at the point of focus over a mark field measuring 85.7 mm by 105.6 mm (3.4” x 4.2”).

In WinMark Pro, a two-line, 10-character text object was created using the European stroke font and set a Text Height of 6.35 mm (0.25”). On the Marking tab, a Power was set, duty cycle percentage, corresponding to 25 watts and a Velocity of 254 mm per second (10”/sec).
This high-contrast mark on glass-filled polyether imide was achieved in 0.51 seconds using 25 watts of power at a speed of 10 inches per second.

Because of the radius of the connector housing, the focus was set point midway between the upper and lower extents of the text to ensure a consistent power density across the mark. Using these settings, cycle times of 0.51 seconds were achieved per part when marking the 10-digit part code. The resulting engraved mark exhibits high contrast, due in part to the 10% glass fill.

Contact: Gary Broadhead

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