Prima Power Laserdyne has been designing and building precision laser processing equipment for welding, drilling, and cutting for 40 years. Over the course of those years, we created various software and control algorithms to reduce the programming time, reduce laser processing time, and improve the part quality. We identify these algorithms as SmartTechniques™. SmartTechniques™ are applications inspired macros or combinations of code created to reduce programing time, reduce cycle times, improve laser processing capabilities and improve precision for more consistent results and higher quality parts. This article will cover a portion of the SmartTechniques which, when implemented, can improve the laser processes.
The SmartTechniques have been driven by the market. Our engineering and applications team have a culture of accepting laser processing challenges and provide creative solutions to help our customers improve their laser processing while maintaining the precision expected in laser welding, drilling and cutting applications. All the SmartTechniques covered in the article are included with the S94P software and are available to all customers. The feedback from customers using these SmartTechniques has been very positive and find them beneficial in their laser processes. Some of the more common SmartTechniques are listed below.
SmartRamp™ is a technique which provides precise laser processing control and eliminates the start and end-of-weld defects, i.e. the depression at the end of the weld. This depression is potential stress point concentrator, potential area for future cracks, and cosmetically unappealing. Photo 1 below shows the difference between a weld without and with SmartRamp™. SmartRamp provides consistent start to the weld and eliminates the depression at the end of weld. This eliminates potential weld quality inspections and secondary processes associated with the end-of-weld depression. It also enables laser processing to be used in applications where an underfilled or undercut welds are not acceptable.
Photo 1. – Welding without and with SmartRamp™.
Operational and product benefits in using SmartRamp for the welding process are:
- Supports welding applications where the undercut/underfill are not acceptable.
- Improved weld quality.
- Minimize post processing, rework, and additional weld inspections due to the endpoint appearance.
- Eliminates the typical issues associated the start and end of a weld, which reduces stress and fatigue cracks.
- Improves the aesthetics of the welds.
SmartSense™ is a precision optical find and measurement utility using the ABSOLUTE OFC2™ hardware (The ABSOLUTE OFC2™ hardware must be included in the Prima Power Laserdyne system to use the SmartSense™ techniques.). It is typically used to find reference locations such as edges, holes, corners or surfaces. It is a fully integrated hardware and software solution using of various G-code utilities. For example, using ABSOLUTE OFC2, the part surface can be mapped without physically touching the surface of the part to get a precise profile of the surface. The surface mapping can be incorporated with the motion control system to compensate for part or fixture variations. SmartSense enables high speed moves and laser processing with accuracy and consistency.
The processing benefits of the SmartSense™ are:
- Faster, more accurate, and simpler measurement methodology than other manual or semi-automated measurement techniques.
- The various SmartSense functions ensure the laser process features are more accurately added to the workpiece.
- Improves the quality and capability for welding, drilling and cutting by ensure the laser beam optimal focused on the workpiece.
- SmartSense can help compensate for part variations and deficiencies. I.e. SmartSense can be used to location welds, holes, or cut features relative to an edge or surface.
SmartComp™ is a macro within S94P software which corrects for misalignments of the part in a fixture or of the fixture on a rotary Table. With SmartComp™, the motion system will adjust to rotational axis and plane of the part or fixture depending which is more critical when laser processing the part. An important note: when using SmartComp™ it is important to know the reference datums for the critical dimensions and how the part placement in the fixture affects the dimensions and quality of the part.
The operational and product benefits of SmartComp are:
- Shorter setup times by having the software and hardware adjust the motion system to the part placement within the rotary fixture.
- Corrections for improper fixture placement on work table – align the motion system to the rotary fixture.
- Dimensional control and placement of laser process features (welds, drilled holes, and cut features), improved part quality, and less waste due to fixture or part misalignments to the rotary table.
SmartPierce™ is group of G-code steps to pierce through the material with minimal piercing diameter and debris blown out of the hole during piercing process. SmartPierce™ creates a very clean pierced hole at the beginning of a cut or drilled hole. This enables the pierced hole to be placed closer to the cut or trepanned hole reducing the laser beam’s travel path which leads to shorter cycle time per cut or hole. The clean pierce leads to the cleaner cut while improving the dimensional control and quality. Additionally because the debris from the piercing process is “managed” and the cut is cleaner, the secondary cleaning process is reduced or possibly eliminated.
The operational and product benefits of the SmartPierce™ are:
- Shorter time to pierce the starting hole through the material. By reducing the time to complete the pierce, the cycle time per cut or per drilled hole is shortened.
- Minimizes the diameter of the pierce point and enables the pierce to be very close or on the cutting edge for some materials. By reducing the distance of moves from the pierce point to the cut profile, the total cutting path length is reduced. The reduced cutting path, adds to a shorter cycle time.
- Minimizing the debris created during piercing can reduce or eliminate the need for secondary cleaning operations (e.g. deburring or removing debris from piercing) leading to a lower total cost of the part.
SmartPerf™ is used for on-the-fly drilling of linear and cylindrical hole patterns. It is a group of macros used to shorten the programing time and cycle times for repeated features in the workpiece and can adjust the laser processing parameters between different stages within the repeated patterns. The more common macros are LinPerf™ and CylPerf™. On-the-fly drilling is very useful in circular parts, spinnerets, separators/filters, and noise attenuators.
The Linear Perforation feature (LinPerf™) provides an easy way to create rows of holes, each row consisting of a pattern of holes produced either by defining a pattern consisting of one or more groups of N holes and M spaces or macro programming blocks that create complex rows of features on a flat surface. There is an advanced option which gives the user the ability to specify any desired subroutine or pattern macro in lieu of the basic round hole.
The Cylinder Perforation feature (CylPerf™) provides an easy way to program and visualize macro programming blocks that create complex rows of features on a cylindrical part. In its simplest format, CylPerf™ creates rows of holes, each row consisting of a pattern of holes. The user can define a pattern consisting of one or more groups of N holes and M spaces. The user can also specify any desired subroutine/pattern macro in lieu of the basic round hole or start/restart the program at any desired hole, by specifying row and hole number, and then either process N holes or process the remainder of the part.
LinPerf™ and CylPerf™ can be combined with SmartPierce™ on any of the hole patterns. This become particularly important when drilling small holes (as shown Photo 6) in close proximity to minimize heat buildup, distortion, and minimize the debris in adjacent holes or on the part surface.
Operational and product benefits of SmartPerf:
- Higher quality holes, both in terms of metallurgy and geometry, with on-the-fly drilling.
- Reduced cycle time from on-the-fly drilling by eliminating acceleration and deceleration at each hole location.
- On-the-fly drilling reduces the heat input into part, which helps reduce delamination of thermal barrier and other coatings on metal components.
- Can be combined with SmartPierce™ for increased hole drilling effectiveness in difficult applications with tight hole patterns – less debris, less heating, less distortion.
If you would like more information on how SmartTechniques™ can help your laser processing, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.