UV laser wire and cable marking systems offer an alternative to non-permanent, high-maintenance systems
Marc Ruddy Thimon
At least 15 years ago, Q-switched Nd:YAG lasers were being used to mark aircraft cable. Some ten years ago 308nm excimer lasers were used for marking Teflon aircraft wire. Lasers have become one of the preferred means of marking wire and cable because of their reliability, throughput, cleanliness, and low maintenance requirements. Laser wire markers produce a permanent mark, without altering the insulating material, by causing a darkening on the surface of fluoropolymer insulated wires. As opposed to inkjet marking, which can be erased, UV laser cable marking is completely indelible. The print is created by a reaction with the UV-sensitive pigments, essentially the titanium dioxide (TiO2). Wires that can be marked using a UV laser, such as the ULYS 330 and MRO 200 from Laselec (Toulouse, France, and Arlington, TX; www.laselec.com), include tape-wrapped wire, polyimide/Kepton wires (PTFE), ETFE, FEP, extruded wires, Teflon (PETF), and Tefzel (ETFE, XLETFE).
A special cable driving system has also been developed by Laselec to run fiber optics without damaging the fibers. The laser marking machines facilitate cable traceability, which enables the end user to track any of the cables produced through the machine back to their lot number and manufacturer in case of unexpected electrical problems. The Laselec systems also are compliant with all major international quality standards such as SAE ARP5607 and certified by Boeing BAC 5152, Airbus AIPS, Eurocopter, and Sikorski specific standards. The UV laser marking systems are widely used in civil and military programs of major aircraft manufacturers and their subcontractors, repair stations, maintenance and completion centers, and wire manufacturers worldwide.
UV laser wire markers have been primarily used for several years to identify and cut to length aircraft wires and cables. However, other industrial sectors such as rail, marine, automotive, energy, and telecommunication industries are having more and more concern for safety. With that in mind, Laselec has developed a special range of products¿the ULYS line¿to meet these specific requirements. These UV laser markers combine safety, very high productivity, and very low operating costs and maintenance.
Laselec laser markers typically are used for the assembly and repair of wiring harnesses¿when manufacturing aircrafts, for aviation installations, aircraft completions or modifications, and to replace aged wiring. Wiring harness manufacturers use these markers 24/7 for production purposes. Additionally, service centers use these systems occasionally for maintenance, repair, and overhaul. Specific equipment also has been developed that enables wire manufacturers to mark their wires during the production process. Wire manufacturers use the laser markers and contrast meters during the development and qualification process of their UV markable wires. It enables them to check that the UV laser print achieved on their wires meets the most demanding aircraft and industrial standards.
Laser marking systems can offer an affordable and better alternative to non-permanent and high-maintenance methods such as ink jet or outdated and aggressive methods such as hot stamping. Unlike hot stamping, laser marking does not harm cable insulation and withstands solvents and friction.
Laselec's latest development has been a multi-spool station de-reeler with optional automatic cable feeding system, which can be added to the ULYS laser wire markers. "This add-on reflects our engineering acumen by its great flexibility: you can chose from 4 to 24 spool capacity with automatic or manual cable feeding; very high productivity: automatic spool change in a matter of seconds; ease of use: automatic spool change controlled from a user-friendly production software; and great reliability," says Jerome Fritsch, director of operations of Laselec Inc.
The company enjoys a unique positioning as a laser and electronics specialist and the only company in itsr field to design and build their machines from hardware to software, including the laser source. "It is giving us a competitive advantage when it comes to machine reliability and customer support, and we do not put our customers at risk of us changing laser source supplier, resulting in discontinued support and parts for the machines," says Jerome Fritsch.
Laselec has been experiencing a rapid expansion across North America. The company enjoys a unique positioning as a laser and electronics specialist and it is the only company in its field to design and build machines from hardware to software, including the laser source. "It is giving us a competitive advantage when it comes to machine reliability and customer support, and we do not put our customers at risk of us changing laser source supplier, resulting in discontinued support and parts for the machines," says Jerome Fritsch.
Laselec gained a very good image throughout the industry, partly due to impressively effective customer retention. During its 17 years in business, the company has never lost one of its customers to the competition. "We use innovation and quality as driving forces for our expansion, and it is all directed to better address the overall needs of our customers," says Fritsch.