Laser marking is several times faster

March 28--Motorsport transmissions manufacturer Hewland Engineering has cut component marking times by several factors since replacing its former dot matrix engraving facility with a state-of-the-art HKR5 laser marking system from HK Technologies.

Hewland manufactures and supplies racing gearboxes to virtually all levels of motorsport from its purpose-built facility at White Waltham in Berkshire, UK. Between 1993 and 2000, the company invested some GBP 8 million in creating a facility that is the envy of the industry, and since then has continued to invest as requirements demand.

For instance, the increasing need for greater component traceability in the motorsport sector recently led Hewland to assess its part marking facility.

It was apparent that the company's dot matrix engraving machines and rotary mill-type engravers were the sources of a growing bottleneck.

"Our existing facilities were slow and took too long to set up," explained Hewland's works superintendent Colin McKee.

"As a result we took a long hard look at laser marking. We did our homework and discovered that many of our competitiors and customers were using systems manufactured by HK Technologies. We took, this to be a good benchmark and duly instructed HK to undertake some trials on our behalf. Our engineering team was very impressed with both the results of the trials and the professional conduct of HK, and we subsequently purchased an HKR5 laser marking system."

Installed last year, the machine has been put to work marking a wide range of parts for motorsport transmissions, including lay shafts, hubs, gears, washers, and shims.

According to McKee, around 90 percent of Hewland's components now require some form of marking.

Founded by Mike Hewland in 1957, the company claims to have invented the bespoke racing car gearbox and has been supplying the world's leading racing car constructors ever since.

Today, Hewland can boast Lola, Ferrari, Honda, Audi, Mercedes, Subaru, Toyota, BMW, Nissan, and Alfa Romeo among its many clients.

The comany's growth can be attributed to many factors, not least its continuous program of planned investment in the latest technology, such as laser marking.

Using computer-controlled optical scanning systems, the HKR5 moves a high-speed laser beam over the workpiece. The non-contact focus of the beam produces a clear, high-contrast, permanent mark on all metals and most plastics to a controlled depth of up to 1mm.

Hewland uses the HKR5 to produce marks that include part numbers, logos, drawing numbers and alignment marks on a range of flat, curved, and irregular surfaces. Batch sizes range from 1 up to 200-off.

"The flexibility of the HKR5 allows us to use a simple V-block to locate a one-off prototype component, or a jig board with pegs to locate multiple parts," said McKee.
"The HK EasiMark software is Windows-based and extremely easy to use. We can download from Corel Draw if required although even starting a program from scratch will only take a few minutes to complete." HK's EasiMark software in conjunction with the fast cycling times of the HKR5 has eased the production bottleneck at Hewland considerably, as McKee confirmed: "Our dot matrix engravers would take around half a minute to mark every part, whereas the HKR5 takes a matter of seconds," he said.

"Within a few days of the machine being installed we could visibly see work flowing more easily throughout the factory." McKee said that mark clarity has also improved dramatically.

"Any mark below 1mm would be extremely difficult to see using dot matrix engraving techniques," he said. "But we have no such problems using laser marking. The HKR5 has replaced our previous four machines and solved all of our problems. It is quick, clean, and exceptionally reliable."

Source: www.manufacturing talk.com/news

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