18 May 2012

Trumpf makes its mark on automotive project

Nottingham-based TQC Ltd, a provider of special purpose, turnkey engineering solutions, has integrated a Trumpf TruMark OEM laser marker into a system supplied to a leading manufacturer of automotive engine, transmission and drive-train components.

The bespoke machine is designed for the automatic laser marking and verification of parts, a common requirement at auto parts manufacturers to ensure traceability. This specific machine handles circular automotive components, laser marking part number, graphics and technical information including timing marks and a ‘Grade A’ 2D barcode matrix (also known as a Datamatrix or DMX code) onto external circumferential faces.

“Although we’ve designed and manufactured custom marking systems before, this was our first based on laser technology,” explains Mark Lees, Technical Support Engineer at TQC. “Our customer specified Trumpf and we were happy to work with such a leading name in this field.”

A particular benefit of this solution is that it has the capability to adjust the focal length of the laser marker automatically through the laser marking process allowing the marking of two different diameters. Furthermore, the cycle time is short, less than 30 seconds, and components are handled via a two-station indexing table to allow simultaneous loading/unloading operations to be carried out during automatic marking and verification.
“We are busier than we’ve ever been and part of the reason for this is the automotive industry, which is booming at the moment,” says Mr Lees. “We are in demand because we can supply complete solutions in line with customer requirements. This includes design, manufacture, testing, commissioning, installation and ongoing support.”

The machine supplied to TQC’s automotive customer comprises location tooling that firstly aligns and datums the part. A mechanism then engages with the tooling at the marking station to accurately lift and rotate the component to allow laser marking. Marking is performed in segments, with the system interfacing the rotary position of the part with the laser output. The verification process takes place at an offset position and uses encoder information of the rotary position interfaced with a line scan camera to form a picture of the laser marked information, which is then verified by the vision software.

Trumpf TruMark OEM lasers are regularly integrated into systems for countless applications across all industries, including many in automotive and aerospace. Trumpf understands what's involved in the integration of beam sources into complex installations, ensuring system integrators and machine builders benefit from decades of experience in industrial laser technology. Trumpf TruMark OEM marking lasers are modular in design, and the standard product range includes up to five different focusing optics for each type of laser. This ensures the ideal processing results for each customer-specific application.

“We’ve had absolutely no issues with the Trumpf TruMark technology, either regarding integration in the machine or since it was installed at our customer’s plant,” says Mr. Lees. “In fact, the client is so pleased that they now want to mark another, different component using the same system. This had led to an additional order as it necessitates some modifications and additions to the existing hardware and software.”

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