Motion Control

Integrated Motion Solution Keeps Laser Marking Machine Costs Down

As the demands of traceability and compliance are put on manufacturers, using a laser provides permanent marking of a variety of information, including 2D bar codes, serial numbers, company information, and logos.

 A laser marking system needs to be as versatile as possible for the end user so that justification of the equipment is easier based upon the wide range of material and component configurations, providing an efficient and cost-effective solution. To help end users get accurate and flexible components marked as quickly as possible, Mecco® Marking & Traceability, a laser marking company for automotive, oil and gas, and fabrication, called upon Schneider Electric Motion USA (formerly IMS) and Lanmark Controls for a repeatable and adjustable motion system for their MeccoMark® Laser Marking Systems.

Companies utilize laser-marked data for tracking information to maintain process control, ensuring that the manufacturing quality of various components, instruments, and machines is of the highest level. Mecco Marking & Traceability builds laser turnkey systems to meet the specific needs of a client’s manufacturing process. In order to accomplish this, there are two factors in engineering the solution that need to be considered: how to interface with the software, and how the hardware will be able to accommodate the process.

Integrating Hardware and Software

The precise movement of parts for laser marking is accomplished using Schneider Electric Motion’s MDrive® integrated motors. This motor allows the laser marking systems to incorporate motion along the X-Y and Z axes, as well as rotary, depending on the needs of the application. Mecco offers both standard and custom software packages for clients to operate their marking systems, and the MDrive product has proven capable of communicating with both.

One of Mecco’s customers wanted to be able to laser-etch a design onto their products as quickly as possible. In order to reduce the downtime between marking associated with loading and unloading the parts, it was determined that a large tray to hold many parts would be most beneficial to allow for marking large batches at once.

To accomplish this, Mecco utilized the MDrive to control 3 axes of motion. The Z axis is controlled for focus of the laser, while a table on the X-Y axis moves the tray of parts into the precise location required for accurate marking.

For another customer, Mecco developed a laser system to mark their round parts. A motor was needed for positioning a gripper that would hold the part. It also needed to control the Z axis for laser focus, and a rotary indexer for marking around the part’s circumference.

Mecco has been utilizing distributed motion for almost ten years. Mecco prefers the layout of the MDrive products since they can easily adapt to various customer requests in a very short time to market. What drew Mecco’s design team to MDrive products initially was the integrated approach of having the motor and drive in a single package. For their assembly team, this means less wiring (power, two wires, and communications). It also made the electrical cabinet size smaller, since Mecco didn’t have to mount any drives in a cabinet. This approach also reduces heat out of the cabinet.

Integrating the motion with the laser and having them working seamlessly is critical for Mecco clients. Some applications require component inspections and, in some cases, utilizing a vision system is necessary to validate the marking. Having expandable I/O within MDrive products provides Mecco customers with more flexibility to tie into the intricate designs of the integrated turnkey system.

This article was contributed by Schneider Electric Motion USA, Marlborough, CT. For more information, visit http://info.hotims.com/49742-322.