12 November 2010

Laser-marked white goods are ?clearly? better

Advanced laser systems supplied by Electrox are providing one of Europe’s largest domestic appliance manufacturers with a ‘clear’ and ‘permanent’ advantage when it comes to marking operating control panels for its dishwashing machines.

Part of 600 Group, the UK’s leading machine tools manufacturer, Electrox has supplied two EF-technology Raptor II-based laser marking workstation systems to Arçelik A.Ş. in Turkey, for its Beko and Arçelik white goods brands. These are sold in more than 100 countries around the globe. Arçelik is part of Koç Holding, Turkey’s largest industrial and services group and the third-largest European domestic appliances company.

Each integrated marking system comprises two lasers, a programmable Z-axis and fixing system for holding the control panels during the laser-marking operation.

Yusuf Dumlupinar of Tunamakina, Electrox’s Turkish distributor, highlights the many benefits to Arçelik A.Ş. from using laser-marking in the manufacture of its dishwasher control panels, most notably the cost-benefits and permanence of laser-marking compared with traditional ink-based marking.

These can be summarised as:
• Totally permanent marking of symbols and controls which cannot be erased
• Virtually no ‘setting up’ time prior to serial production
• No cost for ink or other materials (solvent, film, printing patterns, dies etc)
• Virtually no wastage from poor-quality or absent marking
• Elimination of potentially hazardous ink and solvent fumes
• Space-saving in the production plant
• Elimination of drying process, leading to time-saving
• Less cost and time required to mark new models
• Production flexibility – control panels can be marked on demand, any time
• Production flexibility – panels can be marked after injection process in plastic manufacturing area
• Simpler, cost-effective maintenance
• Laser-marking offers a simpler, non-contact operation

“The most important benefit, of course, is the cost-saving involved, since there is no need to source all the materials required for marking by printing, namely ink, solvent, film, printing patterns or dies,” says Yusuf Dumlupinar.

At the heart of the marking systems currently being operated by Arçelik A.Ş. is the Raptor laser – the first laser marking system to be powered by EF technology.

Serdar Cevik of Arçelik A.Ş. Dishwasher Plant, says: “Our dishwashers and other domestic appliances are recognized throughout the world for using the latest state-of-the-art features and technology. This innovation and advanced technology is one of the main reasons why so many people choose from the Beko ranges for their domestic appliances.

“When it comes to marking control panels and other parts of machines, the use of laser marking represents the most advanced technology in the industry, and it enables us to achieve the most precise, clean and permanent markings.

“The Electrox laser systems which we acquired have been integrated successfully into our dishwasher production plant at Arçelik A.Ş. and the results are helping us to maintain our market-leading position and worldwide reputation in the domestic appliances industry.”

Such is its faith in this new laser marking platform that Electrox is able to give EF Technology a four year warranty - the longest warranty available anywhere in the laser marking industry.

EF Technology provides very short energy pulses - 25ns compared with anything from 70ns to 200ns in other systems – which enables high peak powers (up to 10kW) combined with low pulse energies. This permits high contrast, low damage marking on metals and plastics. The highly controllable beam virtually eliminates surface damage around the mark, enabling EF Technology to be used for marking components where surface finish and retention of material integrity are paramount.

Near perfect beam quality and exceptional energy stability over the entire operational range mean EF Technology delivers very small spots - typically 70µm from a 254mm lens. Smaller spots are possible (down to 25µm) with high speed, self tuning Digital Signal Process (DSP) galvos.

This creates high energy intensities to give a substantially improved performance compared with more traditional systems. This high beam quality also facilitates large depths of focus so laser markers built on EF Technology are better able to mark complex, curved or awkwardly shaped components. There is no ramping in or out of the power and pulse frequencies range from 0.1kHz to 100kHz. The temporal pulse pattern permits bit maps etc. to be marked easily and with high definition.

The Raptor is a compact laser marking system with a very small laser head, incorporating an optical unit, fully sealed to IP67, to ensure extremely low maintenance, even in hostile environments. An annual health check is normally all that will be required.

The system is entirely air-cooled - eliminating the need for water or refrigerant circuits - and takes power direct from a single phase socket outlet. Raptor ships as modular units for production line integration but can equally be supplied with a safety workstation as a turnkey solution. The 5U, 19” rack electronics enclosure is about the same size as a tower PC. As with other laser marking systems built on EF Technology, Raptor is equally at home in high or low volume applications.

Peter Ramsden, Sales Director of Electrox, says: “Laser marking offers a great range of benefits to manufacturers of consumer products such as domestic appliances, and we are delighted that a leading manufacturer like Arçelik A.Ş. has selected to incorporate Electrox laser systems into the manufacturing process for its Beko products and other machines.

“This application clearly demonstrates the suitability of Electrox lasers for high quality and permanent marking of plastic products, and we are extremely confident that Arçelik A.Ş. and other customer will derive important cost-benefits, as well as other advantages in terms of quality and performance, by their decision to utilise to laser-marking in this way.”

“One of these obvious benefits to the end-user of white goods such as washing machines and dishwashers is that, in the past, printed marks and symbols on control panels would wear away with use over a period of time. With laser-marking that quite simply cannot happen – they are permanent for the full lifetime of the machine.”

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