Laser marking systems require the balancing of many different parts and requirements with size and space restrictions. For instance, applications where large parts need to be marked must take the size of the part into consideration before a single piece can be marked. The material that needs to be marked and the kind of mark also play into the setup of the laser marking system as a whole.
Finding the right combination of components and accessories often requires detailed knowledge of the application, material, space constraints, and desired mark. There are a few common specifications and accessories to consider, however, regardless of the applications particulars.
The Importance of Z-Axis Requirements
One specification that all laser marking systems should take into consideration is the Z-axis. No matter the application specification, the focusing lens has to be some distance away from the surface being marked. The larger the marking field of the lens, the further away the lens must be from the surface of the part.
For example, a 7-inch-square marking requires that the bottom of the focusing lens be about 11.5 inches away from the part. “Away” generally means “Above,” since most lens and scan heads are mounted above the parts to be marked.
When trying to mark large or tall parts, the Z-axis requirement of the system is the height of the part, plus the distance between the lens and the marking surface at the focal point of the lens. Unless one is only marking thin plates or small parts, a substantial amount of Z-axis travel is essential to a versatile workstation.
Open frame systems allow for the most flexibility in part setup and loading. For some, however, an enclosure is the most comfortable setup to work in. But, while it might feel more comfortable to house your laser marking system within an enclosure, an enclosure dictates the size of the largest part that can fit inside the system. This can be greatly limiting for shops that need or want the greatest flexibility.
Enclosed laser marking systems also typically require a fume extraction system. Additionally, an enclosure means workstation mounting. Both of these considerations are important when planning the location of the laser marking system and can impact the overall cost of a new system.
Basic laser marking systems are designed to be integrated into an existing workstation or automation. Not every application is best served with an all-purpose solution, however, and for those user’s custom components and configurations are available.
Typically, a custom laser marking system is made for a specific, repetitive application. Customization can be as simple as fabricating fixtures to hold and locate specific parts, or as elaborate as integrating a laser marker with some type of automated parts feeding and handling system, like a bowl feeder or conveyors.
Contact us to learn more about our full range of laser marking equipment and job shop services, or to request a quote!