Synrad, Mukilteo, Wash., a recognized work leader in sealed RF-excited CO2 lasers, has developed the first lasermarking system completely based on digital technology. The kit makes laser marking an option for both large and smallvolume manufacturers. The DH-Series marking head produces crisp and accurate laser marks through its use of digital circuitry and fiber optics. These also make the heads relatively immune to electrical noise or interference typically found in manufacturing environments.

Sealed CO2 lasers such as the DH Series are more versatile than conventional yttrium-aluminum- garnet models and can mark a wider variety of materials, including plastics, wood, leather, glass, rubber, stainless steel, and titanium. The DH power marking head can handle up to 125 W and offers a broad range of focal lengths, using beryllium, the lightest and strongest optical material available. The vertically mounted design fits into a 1-sq-ft footprint, an important consideration when space is a premium.

Synrad laser markers run by a proprietary software program called WinMark, which simplifies laser marking by including pull-down menus, toolbars, and dialog boxes that guide users through setting up and running marking procedures. The software can also import photographs or CAD files of the parts to be marked. This lets users position laser marks exactly where they want. It also lets them simulate the laser-marking process to monitor marking cycle times.

WinMark also incorporates ActiveMark technology, an ActiveX control that allows users to build powerful marking procedures from software programs such as Microsoft Access, Microsoft Office, and Visual Basic.

Applications for laser systems range from electronics to medical components. Electronicchip manufacturers, for example, engrave hundreds of integrated circuits per minute with a product number and batch code, without ever touching them. Alphanumeric or bar-code data is marked on the screen printing epoxy ink for a printed-circuit board, replacing expensive labels that peel and smear.

Automakers use lasers to serialize plastic connectors and dashboards to prevent tampering. Medical filters and other devices can be easily cut and marked since lasers are completely sterile.

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