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Laser welding

CANopen used as embedded network

Branson has developed the Simultaneous Through-Transmission Infrared (STTIr) laser welding technology. The electronics comprise a controller, laser banks, a 6-inch display, and an embedded CANopen network.

Actuator with four CANopen-connected laser banks (Photo: Branson)

The STTIr technology offers manufacturers the capability to achieve a clean, clear-on-clear, particulate-free, hermetically sealed weld. Branson and Sono-Tek have collaborated in developing a technique for precision application of laser absorbers, employing Sono-Tek’s ultrasonic fine line coating system. The technique applies thin film deposition of a 0,5-mm wide line of laser absorber to the weld area, for joining clear-on-clear plastics. This welding technology is capable of meeting highly specialized manufacturing demands of small geometrically complex devices and does not use vibration force, making it suitable to accommodate delicate parts or those embedded with electronics.

Predecessor laser welding techniques such as scan or trace welding required a laser beam to travel along the weld line of a plastic part, heating and cooling as it goes. STTIr on the other hand, shapes multiple stationary laser beams in a wave-guide along the entire length of the weld line. Discrete beam-zone intensity control via a tool map protects delicate structures while assuring uniform weld performance. All the lasers fire simultaneously under a clamp force, heating/melting/and bonding the component parts along the entire weld surface all at once, in a fraction of the time required for trace welding. The wave-guide that houses the laser ferrules can be configured on multiple axes to accommodate highly complex 3-D contours, allowing designers to create parts for maximum functionality and ergonomic appeal.

Branson’s 3G Laser Welding System consists of a control and laser banks. It is a compact bench-top controller designed to interface with a single 2000X actuator and up to two Radiance laser banks capable of delivering up to 250 W of laser power. This unit is designed to be operated with an external chiller.

Branson also offers the GLX-3 Laser Welders. It was demonstrated at the K 2016 tradeshow in Duesseldorf (Germany). It features the above-mentioned patented STTIr welding process, which heats, melts, and joins the entire weld of two or more parts simultaneously. This results in a significantly faster weld cycle on large parts, and more precise melt of the weld line. The GLX-3 laser welder can deliver cycle times as fast as 0,5 s to 5 s on weld lines of 2 m nominally. Throughput speed is increased further with automatic tool changes, which typically can be performed in less than 5 min. In addition, the STTIr technology enables the precision welders to accommodate variable weld widths, delivering weld depths of 1 mm or more, yet holding tight tolerances on weld depths as shallow as 0,05 mm or less.

Easy to integrate

Flexibility and ease of integration is a key principal in the design of the Radiance 3G/3I laser bank. The laser bank can be interfaced with the Branson IRAM 50, the Branson Integrator Controller, or used with custom control solutions. When used with custom control solutions, the Radiance laser bank can be configured to operate as one of 99 laser banks on a closed-loop control system. Therefore, the bank provides a CANopen interface. The use of a single-power connection and a CANopen network reduces the required wiring and eases installation.

Branson offers two standard models of Radiance IRAM controls: 3G and 3I. These units include DC laser power supplies, a CANopen laser bank bus network, and a 6-inch LCD touch screen interface, and the ability to control a Branson 2000X Series actuator. The advanced controls include: Time and distance welding modes (both collapse and absolute), force measurement, process limits with alarms, multiple preset memory, graphing and weld history data, and multiple language support. A tool map feature allows for laser parameter control of discrete tooling segments via a graphic representation of the tool. Each laser tool includes a nonvolatile memory device that contains a tool map and the welding parameter presets. When a tool is installed in the welder, the tool map and weld preset data is loaded into the controller. The tool map image can be based on a graphic representation of the part, a CAD drawing image, or a photograph of an actual part.

The IRAM 3G is a bench-top controller. It is designed to interface via CANopen with a single 2000X actuator and up to two Radiance IRAM laser banks capable of delivering up to 250 W of laser power. This unit is designed to be operated with an external chiller. The IRAM 3I is a free-standing controller. It is designed to interface with a single 2000X actuator and up to four Radiance IRAM laser banks capable of delivering up to 500 W of laser power. This unit features an internal chiller for laser cooling.

The 2000X actuator offers includes a force transducer and optical linear encoder for accurate distance welding and results reporting. The actuator is available in various stroke lengths and air cylinder sizes so that it can be matched properly to the application.


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