3D Cut or Weld
The RAPIDO from PRIMA North America (www.prima-na.com) is a 3D, five-axis laser system that can cut, weld, and surface treat parts within a 160 x 60 x 30-in. work envelope. (There is the possibility of adding a sixth axis.) The axes measurements are 126 in. X, 60 in. Y, and 24 in. Z. And the axes moves are fast, with an acceleration of 4 g. There is a direct-drive head, so backlash is prevented. What's more, the kinematics are comparatively simple. Because accidents can happen, there is a patented Safe Impact Protection System that protects the head, nozzle and sensor in the event of a collision between the head and the workpiece; the head breaks away and can be quickly reattached to keep the machine up and running. The quick-mounting heads also speed changing over from one process to another. The integrated structure provides three-sided accessibility, which facilitates load/unload and programming activities. Enclosed cabin provides fume and dust evacuation. Up to a 4-kW laser generator can be used.
Fiber lasers are effective and comparatively low cost. Miyachi Unitek (www.muc.miyachi.com), which provides a variety of welding systems-laser-based (e.g., pulsed Nd:YAG ) and otherwise-, is now offering both low- and high-power fiber lasers that are integrated into its standard and custom workstations. These turnkey systems are available with multi-axis orthogonal stages or six-axis robot arms.
Need to align the spindle on a machine or check runout? Need to align something 100 ft away? If so, check out the Microgage 2D Transparent Receiver from Pinpoint Laser Systems (www.pinlaser.com). The receiver determines in X-Y the position of the diode laser beam that's aimed at it. A digital display provides a reading of the motion accurate to 0.0001 in.
High Power for Doors
BMW Group, according to IPG Photonics (www.ipgphotonics.com), has ordered multi-kilowatt, continuous-wave Ytterbium fiber laser systems for use in welding doors. It is said to represent the first large-scale production application of fiber lasers at BMW. The YLR Series high-power lasers feature an integrated cooling system, integrated beam switch, and flexible processing fibers. Among the benefits of fiber lasers is the ability to have a tight spot, which means that the standoff distance can be longer. What's more, they are said to have low maintenance requirements and a comparatively small footprint on the factory floor.
Looking for an ultra-high power laser that's small yet can withstand shock, vibration, and exposure to the environment-a laser that, for example, could be used for an adaptive cruise control system? The Series 2675 Epi-Stack from Intense Ltd. (www.intenseco.com) is a 905-nm short-pulsed diode laser capable of up to 75 W of peak power from a 200 x 10-µm aperture. It is a single chip with three emitters enclosed in a hermetically sealed 5.6-mm package. It is designed for low duty cycle operations, typically 200 ns, 2 kHz, at temperatures from -40 to +85°C.
The TruLaser Station 5004 workstation from TRUMPF (www.us.trumpf.com) can perform laser welding and cutting operations. It has a working area of 31.5 x 19.7 x 23.6 in. The travel paths are 17.7 in X, 11.8 in. Y, and 11.8 in. Z. It uses the company's TruPulse solid-state laser that provides 6 kW of pulse power in the millisecond range, which means that it can cut or weld in applications that other systems can't. There is real-time power control so there is high pulse-to-pulse stability for reliable results. The system can be used for operations ranging from prototyping to short-run production. While some workstations feature optical stereomicroscopes, this one has an electronic stereomicroscope, separate from the laser optics, that facilitates precision operation.
Lasers for Safety
Airbag wrap manufacturing is said to be improved through a process developed by Schreiner ProTech (www.schreinergroup.de/wEnglisch/schreiner
protech/index.shtml) that deploys a laser. Airbag wraps are made with a non-woven material and typically require several process steps, including sewing. In the Schreiner approach, the cover material is printed, laser cut-which means that comparatively complex geometries can be created-and then folded and laser welded or laminated with a self-adhesive strip. In the latter case, the strip is used to seal the bag in the airbag manufacturer's production process. Realize that there are many safety-related considerations in producing these products, such as assuring that the break-open force requirements for the bags is what it needs to be.