15 January 2014

Putting a Spin on Laser Marking Medical Device Components

Many medical device products require marking, either to produce accurate graduations to allow precise dosage measurement or for identification and traceability. Within this industry it is essential that all marks are clear, consistent and indelible and the most reliable method of achieving and maintaining these strict criteria is through the use of lasers.

The laser however, is just one part of the marking solution, as equal emphasis must be given to the presentation and processing of the individual components to be marked.

Producing automated laser marking systems requires a combination of skills ranging from good conceptual design, robust machine building, flexible and intuitive control systems, and the selection and integration of the most appropriate laser source. The latest laser marking system built by ES Technology Limited for one of the UK’s leading medical device manufacturers incorporates all of these attributes within a compact and ergonomic design.

Components to be marked are loaded by the operator in batches of 6, to a station on the rotary indexing unit. The machine then picks each part individually, checking that the length is within the specified tolerance, before rotating the part using a motorised system whilst the laser generates the required marks in 12 different places on each component. The laser source used within this system is a Rofin PowerLine 10E Air, chosen for its low operating costs and its efficient air-cooling which means that the laser is virtually maintenance free.

A further index of the machine presents the marked components for vision inspection, where once again, each part is picked up to verify that of each of the individual marks on the component meets the required specification. All good components are returned to the machine fixture whilst any deemed as reject are automatically segregated to a locked container. The machine control system maintains a record of all batches produced together with pass / fail information for future traceability.

ES Technology is based near Oxford and is recognised as the leading UK manufacturer of special purpose industrial laser systems. The company also operates a laser marking service for decorative, functional and identification marks on metals, plastics and ceramics.

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