Controlled layer cutting of a two-layer material with a 75 watt laser source (left) and a 10 watt laser source (right). The 10 watt source is able to deliver laser energy at a slower rate, reducing the heat-affected zone and increasing the cut consistency when compared to the 75 watt source.
On most systems, ULS offers two different wavelengths of CO2 laser sources: 10.6µm and 9.3µm. While both have broad applications, there are some cases where one is highly-preferable to the other. A good example of this effect is laser marking on PET plastic (a form of polyester). The 10.6µm wavelength is ideal for laser cutting this material but has difficulty producing high-contrast marks. However, the 9.3µm wavelength produces marks that are very easy to read on the surface of the material. This is a complex effect based on the spectral absorption of the material being processed.
Laser marking PET with 10.6µm (left) and 9.3µm (right) laser sources. The 10. 6µm exhibits poor contrast relative to the 9.3µm mark.
Another illustration of a 9.3µm wavelength producing a better result can be seen when laser cutting polyimide film. Cuts made with the 10.6µm laser tend to leave carbonized residue, while cuts with the 9.3µm are much cleaner. Rapid Reconfiguration allows systems to quickly be converted to the appropriate wavelength for each application.
Laser cutting polyimide film with a 10.6µm (left) and a 9.3µm (right) laser source. The 9.3µm source reduces the amount of carbonization at the cut interface, leaving a cleaner, more uniform edge.
In addition to the 10.6µm and 9.3µm CO2 lasers, some ULS systems can be configured to use a 1.06µm fiber laser. This wavelength opens up entire families of materials including metals, ceramics, and other inorganics. Rapid Reconfiguration gives these systems the ability to switch between these wavelengths with ease.
Enhances Flexibility and Productivity
In addition to numerous materials processing benefits, Rapid Reconfiguration allows users to become more productive with their equipment no matter the scale of their operation. Even operations with one laser system can have incredible flexibility, as they can quickly adapt to any laser processing task by reconfiguring laser sources. Other laser systems cannot attain this level of agility because reconfiguring them may take longer than the processing task itself.
With Rapid Reconfiguration, a growing business has the built-in capability to reconfigure its solution for optimal efficiency and system utilization. On the manufacturing floor, Rapid Reconfiguration enables flexible, scalable solutions by switching out laser sources, optics, and accessories to satisfy changing customer demand. Benefits include, tool-less prototype development, fast and accurate job estimation and seamless re-allocation of laser systems based on production demand.
In multiple laser system configurations, users can match system size and laser power to particular processes, such as laser cutting, engraving, or marking. For example, an ILS12.150D is a large system which may be required for marking large panels. In this instance, a low-power laser with a larger field size is all that is required, meaning that the high-power lasers can be paired with smaller-sized laser systems to process more power-intensive but smaller parts. This maximizes Return On Investment (ROI) by ensuring that the most efficient combination of lasers and systems is always in use.
Protects and Optimizes Investment
Many customers start with a single laser system and a single laser source. As time goes by and their business grows, they may purchase a second laser source to expand their range of material processing capabilities and/or increase productivity.
With other laser systems, each new laser system purchase diminishes the benefit of the laser sources that the customer already owns, because the original laser sources cannot easily be reinstalled onto their new system. However, this is not true with Rapid Reconfiguration. A vast majority of laser sources purchased from ULS in the past maintain compatibility with ULS systems, meaning that a past investment in laser sources impacts the future by providing both long-term laser compatibility and virtually limitless possibilities for future system configurations.
Rapid Reconfiguration also affords customers a high level of flexibility with their investment. For example, a customer can choose to purchase lasers of the same wattage, or instead decide on mixed wattages, depending on the needs of their specific applications. With Rapid Reconfiguration, they can choose the less costly option now, with full knowledge that a future upgrade is extremely easy and that the upgrade will not only provide a throughput advantage, but will also yield all of the processing advantages associated with having two laser sources.
Requires Minimal Downtime for Service and Repair
ULS manufactures high-quality laser sources that operate reliably for many years. However, all laser sources eventually require service. Rapid Reconfiguration essentially eliminates downtime. For example, users with multiple laser sources can pull from their own stock to maintain manufacturing capability while the laser source requiring service is sent back to the factory. Alternatively, refurbished laser sources can be requested for exchange from ULS. When the new laser arrives, the old laser is sent back to ULS. Both of these scenarios result in virtually zero system downtime.
In the unlikely event that a laser source requires service before scheduled maintenance can be performed, ULS can ship refurbished lasers overnight to many locations around the world. Once the new laser source arrives, it takes only minutes to install.
Safety and Ease of Use
On other laser systems, it can take hours to remove, replace, and realign a new laser onto a system. This process requires extensive training and customers often hire an expensive technician and must shut their laser cutting, engraving, and marking machine down for an extended period of time to perform the task. Once the laser is installed, the processing settings, such as power and speed, may require adjustment. Testing and re-aligning the laser also creates scrap material, adding to the already-protracted downtime.
Conversely, Rapid Reconfiguration requires no tooling or specialized training. ULS pre-aligns all laser sources to a common reference standard at the factory, dramatically simplifying the installation process. Typically, it takes about one minute to reconfigure a ULS system. The laser system then internally communicates which laser is installed and adjusts for any processing changes automatically. If a user is cutting 3/8” plastic with a 40 watt laser, but then adds a 75 watt laser to increase productivity, the ULS software computes the required processing settings to accommodate the additional laser source. This means that the user does not need to spend time re-establishing parameters on the system each time a laser is interchanged – it all just works.
Enables other Unique Universal Features
Rapid Reconfiguration allows customers to maximize the utility of several other Unique Universal features and technologies such as: SuperSpeed™, Multi-Wavelength™ and
MultiWave Hybrid™ technologies, along with several features within the ULS software. This technological ecosystem is indicative of the high degree of consideration that goes into the design and construction of all ULS products, with the goal of maximizing customer capability, flexibility and profitability.
Provides Superior Return on Investment (ROI)
Rapid Reconfiguration has many benefits, but most of all it maximizes the customer’s ROI through increased flexibility, capability, and throughput. Customers can adapt their laser system for nearly any application – reconfiguring their laser cutting, engraving, and marking equipment to accommodate day to day demands. Their investment evolves with them to support the needs of their business as it grows and/or changes. When service is required, it’s a fast and painless process, resulting in practically zero downtime. Customers also have the assurance that ULS will provide support and help to ensure their continued success.