Manufacturing Systems Today: Laser Processing

Laser marking system
The EV-40 laser marker for the permanent deep marking of metals or composite materials features a Q-switched Nd:YVO4 diode-pumped, air-cooled laser with a high-speed digital galvo scanner. Developed by Telesis Technologies Inc., the easily integrated laser provides a beam with a long focal tolerance, pulse energies above 2 mJ at 10 kHZ, and high average power, which allows for the marking of both flat and curved surfaces at high speed. The marker is suitable for processing delicate plastics and metals in a variety of medical device manufacturing applications, including the marking of titanium and steel, deep engraving of stainless steel, and cutting of stents. Proprietary software and optimized electronics enable the system to be used for high-speed, on-the-fly marking of materials that are beyond the capability of traditional CO2 markers, according to the manufacturer. The system operates without a chiller and offers an average diode life of more than 25,000 working hours.
Telesis Technologies Inc.
CIRCLEVILLE, OH

Laser welding systems
Optimized for plastic component assembly, Novolas laser welding systems from Leister USA are suited for use in the assembly of microfluidic products and medical devices. Achieving weld widths as narrow as 100 µm, the welding systems are based on the company’s patented Mask technique, which enables complicated geometric patterns to be selectively bonded within seconds using a laser line—a so-called curtain of light. The contamination-free, proprietary welding technology allows high flexibility and precise, repeatable, hermetic welding of thermoplastics. The turnkey WS-AT system is designed for R&D and low-volume production while the Basic-AT unit can be employed to automate higher-volume applications.
Leister USA
ITASCA, IL

High-power fiber laser
The JK1000FL 1-kW fiber laser from JK Lasers is capable of providing high levels of power and control for a range of cutting, welding, and drilling applications. Suited for processing large medical devices with thick-walled components, it can be used to weld pacemakers in order to provide a hermetic seal and to cut surgical instruments, for example. The laser, which incorporates up to four fibers, features a time-sharing capability that maximizes productivity by eliminating system load and unload delays, along with an energy-sharing capability that helps prevent distortion of sensitive components by simultaneously welding at multiple locations on one part. It also delivers an average power output of 1000 W in continuous-wave operation. Available with a range of cutting and welding heads and in multiple fiber-delivery options, the unit operates in modulated mode and features a line width of less than 5 nm.
JK Lasers, a subsidiary of GSI Group
BEDFORD, MA

Laser stent-cutting system
Offered by Rofin-Baasel Inc., the StarCut Tube Femto laser processing system provides medical device manufacturers with a means of processing stent materials faster than energy can diffuse within the atomic lattice, according to the company. No heat is transferred to the surrounding material when femtosecond lasers such as this are employed, eliminating the processing phenomena of recast and burr formation and distortion. It is also optimized to handle thin-walled, fragile semifinished products. Because of its short, femtosecond pulse widths and resulting cold-cutting capability, this stent-cutting system can be used on such materials as magnesium alloys and bioresorbable polymers. In addition, it eliminates the need for postprocessing of nitinol or other stent materials, except for ultrasonic cleaning.
Rofin-Baasel Inc.
DEVENS, MA

Ultrafast micromachining lasers
RPMC Lasers Inc. offers a variety of picosecond and femtosecond laser systems suited for micromachining applications involved in medical device manufacturing. In the picosecond line, the company supplies lasers with output power up to 75 W, sub-15-picosecond pulses, and repetition rates to 1 MHz. The available femtosecond laser produces as much as 4 W of output power with pulses shorter than 400 femtoseconds and repetition rates up to 200 kHz. Both types of lasers are useful in medical device manufacturing because of the cold-processing capability their ultrafast pulse rates introduce, according to the company. The so-called coulomb explosion produced by the extremely rapid pulses strips the material’s atoms of their electrons, and the ablated material drifts away as dust. Cold processing minimizes thermal side effects such as recast and burrs so that the need for postprocessing is reduced significantly.
RPMC Lasers Inc.
O’FALLON, MO