14 March 2013

Marking - Laser isn't the only option

More than a decade ago, TRUMPF was the first to introduce industrial diode-end pumped marking lasers to the market. This made laser marking fast, economical and reliable. Today, TRUMPF lasers are marking a huge variety of products – integrated circuits, pacemakers, apples, bathroom fittings, cell phones, solar cells, watches, perfume bottles to name but a few. Medical devices and components used in automotive and aircraft manufacture are also uniquely marked by TRUMPF for traceability.

Mechanical marking
Whilst laser marking is the obvious choice for multiple materials and individual part marking, there is another option for general sheet metal work. For those involved in subcontract fabrication, mechanical marking can prove a highly efficient and cost saving option. For this purpose TRUMPF has developed a series of embossing, engraving and marking tools for its TruPunch range of punching machines. These allow metal marking to be integrated into the machine cycle and they are surprisingly flexible.

Serial and lot numbers, date of manufacture and company logos are commonly created mechanically, but TRUMPF engraving extends the possibilities to include filigree graphics and the production of marks in different font sizes and dimensions or even special fonts. This is a non-cutting process that simply results in the material being displaced.

Key to the entire process is the latest generation of TruTops Punch software. It allows the TRUMPF engraving tool to reproduce all TrueType fonts and any designs or random contours and patterns stored in a drawing interface format (DXF) file.

The engraving needle has an extremely high wear resistance thanks to its stability. A special spring mechanism ensures a consistent engraving depth regardless of sheet thickness. Typically the TRUMPF engraving tool is used on mild steel, aluminium and stainless steel but special versions are available for use on other materials on request.

Laser marking
The overriding benefit of laser over mechanical marking however is its supreme flexibility, a factor that is of growing importance in a market that increasingly needs parts to be marked individually. Software development also continues to simplify this process.

TRUMPF laser marking is distinguished by various additional advantages when compared to conventional processes such as stamping, embossing, mechanical engraving, etching or pad printing. As this is a non-contact process, the integrity of substrate is minimally altered and there is no tool wear involved. No preparatory or refinishing work is necessary and any geometry can be marked.

A wide range of materials can be processed by laser including ceramics and plastics as well as any metal and larger surfaces can be marked. High process speed and marking on the fly are further important benefits as is the ability to impart very fine marks with a line width of just 0.03mm. TRUMPF laser marking can also be easily integrated into any production line and into any fully automatic manufacturing cycle as all operations are computer controlled and data is easily transmitted via interfaces.

Extensive choice
The TRUMPF TruMark product programme now includes models and wavelengths in the IR range from 1064 – 532nm up to near UV with 355nm. All are designed for easy programming and operation and available with a range of software options to suit a variety of marking tasks. TruMark may be specified as an OEM system for integration into an automated production line or as a stand-alone workstation with Class 1 safety enclosure and integrated fume extractor.

One of the most recent additions to the OEM series is the TruMark 3020 that is suitable for all marking tasks in the infrared range and has high beam quality and high pulse peak power enabling it to mark almost any material. This marking versatility is complemented by the unit’s ability to operate in almost any environment. It is also cooled by air rather than water making it self-contained and virtually maintenance free.

TRUMPF’s latest stand-alone system is the TruMark Station 1000. This is an entry-level machine that produces high quality marks quickly, easily and inexpensively. The highly compact system can be used as a static work table or for mobile use. The work table itself can be raised manually to adjust the focus to the height of the workpiece. This safety-monitored product is designed to be plug-and-play and line integration ready.

Both systems are complemented by TruTops Mark software that enables the technology to be optimally tailored to the task.

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