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ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE COVER STORY


Panasonic Laser marking ensures quality and traceability throughout a component’s lifespan


As manufacturing requirements in the automotive industry demand more complex production techniques and increased speeds the need to ensure quality levels are adhered to is ever more important. Product traceability is one of the areas that is becoming ever more important with the need to ensure products are manufactured to the specification to which they were designed. The increased use of 2D codes and barcodes to ensure traceability on components is ideally suited to Laser Marker technology, as Bob Norfield, general manager – automation systems, Panasonic Electric Works UK, explains...


M


anufactures in the automotive industry are committed to product


traceability and it is legal practice under the Product Liability Act to manufacture safety critical components to high levels of quality assurance and traceability. Permanent direct part marking (DPM) of components with information including part number, date, time, batch and other information is a critical part of this process. To ensure lifetime traceability of a


product, information must be contained on a component in a permanent way and is usually in the form of permanent marking through engraving or printing. This information has to be resistant to various elements (including abrasion, temperature and light), not only through the production process but during the products entire life cycle. Laser Marking systems offer an ideal


solution for permanent direct part marking a product, whether it is metal or plastic, in various industries for example the automotive industry. Particularly suitable for metal products are the FAYb (Fibre Amplified Ytterbium) Laser Markers from Panasonic as these offer several advantages over the more conventional and historically based YAG (Yttrium Aluminium Garnet) systems including air cooling, more compact housing and significantly reduced power consumption. An important factor in today’s emphasis on green technology and energy saving. With the many complex and compact shapes used in component design the


8 APRIL 2016 | AUTOMATION


The LP-S500 series of Laser Markers from Panasonic offers a significant increase in processing speed over conventional pulsed laser techniques


possibility of marking all the required information onto a specific area may not be possible. Curved surfaces and products with multi-dimensional surfaces can offer problems where normal focused beam laser marking systems are used. Moving products in the Z axis can increase engineering costs and slow down the production process. For this purpose Panasonic has designed a range of FAYb Laser Markers that can mark products in the third dimension without the need to move either the product or the laser marker. This opens up a whole new area of marking where oblique, convex and concave shapes can be quickly and reliably marked in addition to two surfaces including those on an angle. The precise manufacturing processes


Panasonic has designed a range of FAYb Laser Markers that can mark products in the third dimension


involved in the manufacture of bearing assemblies have been further enhanced with the process of laser marking allowing the DPM of the final assembly without the concern of product damage.


In the past the technology used to mark


information onto a bearing assembly required the time consuming process of electrolytic marking in order to avoid the phenomenon of bearing stress. The process, although offering a permanent marking solution without affecting the material, did require the use of individual masks that reduced the flexibility of the system and added to the process time. With the introduction of laser marking technology the speed and flexibility of what could be marked on the bearing could be increased significantly with more detail information including manufacture logos for example. However, the use of laser markers using


pulsed laser light could create problems by introducing metals burrs in the marking process. To overcome this Panasonic introduced a FAYb type laser marker, the LP-S series, using the technology of continuous wave light that allowed the marking technique of black laser annealing to be realised. The results of this process are for a mark to be created by oxidising the material layers which give a durable smooth black annealed effect that leaves no depression or burrs on the material. The LP-S500 series of Laser Markers


from Panasonic also offers a significant increase in processing speed over conventional pulsed laser techniques and with an IP67 protected head design makes it highly suitable for automotive, aerospace and pharmaceutical applications.


Panasonic Electric Works UK www.panasonic-electric-works.co.uk


/AUTOMATION


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