Technology is changing ever more rapidly. Sometimes this means topics learned in engineering or technical school become obsolete. Whole new fields emerge within a few years, so that even those with freshly minted educations suddenly find themselves faced with new challenges.
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The mindset that should accompany decision making about how best to deburr parts should depend on establishing a target for cost per part. That’s the sage advice of LaRoux Gillespie, Dr. Eng, FSME, CMfgE, PE, a past president of SME and author of 13 books on burrs and deburring.
While laser marking and engraving are well-established processes, innovations and investments in the sector are continuing to push performance boundaries.
Industrial lasers require cooling to remove excess heat generated in the resonator power electronics and the optics system. The type of cooling required is determined by laser wattage, resonator efficiency, resonator and optics temperature requirements, and ambient temperature.
For ABB, robotic welding comes down to a never-ending process of ensuring parts are suitable for laser joining and developing the appropriate processes. To that end, ABB is refining a recent innovation to improve beam delivery speeds and has developed software for on-the-fly welding in tandem with Trumpf’s Intelligent Programmable Focusing Optic (IPFO).
From producing lithium-ion batteries to processing sheetmetal, new laser welding systems are “pushing the envelope” of light absorption, beam control, speed and programming flexibility.
I’m among the first to dive into the latest manufacturing innovations and see how they can improve our customers’ operations. Yet, I’m also among the first to advise them to pause and ensure that the fundamentals of their manufacturing processes are in place before adding something new into the complex mix of functionality and desired outcomes.
Metrology for medical devices needs to become more capable as those devices get more varied and complex. Manufacturers must inspect dental implants, coronary stents, orthopedic joints, and implanted electronic devices. Surgeons are increasingly using intricate, sometimes one-off, surgical tools. There is also a growing number of consumable items, such as hypodermic needles, made on rapid production lines. They all need ever more precise quality control.
Sometimes succession of a family business from one generation to the next doesn’t always go as planned. Take, for example, Laser Specialists Inc. (Fraser, MI). Incorporated in 1986, the company was positioned at the forefront of laser cutting technology.
Lasers — well-established tools in the manufacture of medical devices—are continuing to break ground by producing smaller, more precise and more functional parts thanks to faster pulse speeds at lower cost, new applications and the marriage of laser processing to Swiss-style machining.