Laser Automation Marking Medical Devices 

Color laser marking plastic is an important and critical function of Laser Automation Marking Medical Devices, pharmaceutical devices, and general industrial devices. WLSC finds that the best laser platforms for marking plastics and color laser marking medical devices is the 532nm wavelength and the 355nm wavelength both of which are available as standard products under the WLSC LP9000 series.

Laser Automation Marking Medical Devices How To

The primary answer regarding how to color mark plastic and medical devices is with Laser Automation, providing parts presentation, placement, and vision verification with disposition of the part after color laser marking takes place; the primary features can take many different forms as discussed below in this article.

  • Conveyor lines or moving assembly belts with fixtures
  • Articulated arms
  • Vacuum pick and place
  • Robotics placing the parts
  • Walking beams moving trays or arrays of parts
  • Vibratory bowls and feeder track coupled with the parts being placed into a color laser marking station

Vibratory Bowls and Feeder Tracks

In this presentation we focus on vibratory bowls and feeder tracks, in these types of automation which can be used for color laser a marking medical devices, color laser marking plastics of almost any type and also for laser marking or laser etching of metals and other materials, many of the advantages associated with laser system integration can be realized.  The vibratory bowl and feed line concept allow for tremendous flexibility in Laser Automation as follows:

  • Virtually any number of parts can be loaded in the feeder hoppers meaning a full days or even possibly a full week worth of production time [number of parts required to be produced] can be preloaded and run/process with the color laser marking on the plastic medical device completed.
  • The automation can run and laser mark the medical devices in this manner without operator intervention resulting in significant cost savings for the manufacturer
Feed Bowl With Parts And Sensors For Feeding
Expanded View Showing Hopper, Parts Shoot, And Feed Bowl
  • The vibratory bowl and hopper are equipped with sensors to alert the Laser Automation when parts should be moved from the hopper to the vibratory bowl. Note the bowl, hopper, tracks are all from medical quality stainless steel to prevent any contamination of the medical device.

Feeder Tracks and Parts Placement for Color Laser Marking

The next steps for color laser marking plastic is to move the parts from the feeder bowl to the laser station and present the parts to the laser for color laser marking, and identification, this task can be accomplished in several ways, I.E.

  1. Vacuum pick and place picks up the parts and presents to the laser.
  2. Articulated arm picks up and presents the part and presents to the laser.
  3. Parts drop or are feed into a fixture.
  4. Robotic arm picks up the parts and presents them to the laser this is an expensive alternative but very useful in terms of precision, ability to move the part around for color laser marking in different sections of the part, and longevity reliability of the equipment.

In this discussion we focus on moving the parts with vibratory feeder lines tied into the bowl and hopper as follows:

  1. The parts are vibrated or feed out of the bowl to the feeder tracks.
  2. The feeder tacks have sensors to stop parts movement when the tack if full of parts, parts are help back with a tick tock device the bowl and tracks are not shut off so they do not loose tuning or ability to continue moving parts.
  3. The parts fall into a loading position and are then driven and locked as discussed below into a laser marking station, the remaining parts are held back on the feeder track by a tick tock mechanism.
  4. The feeder tack and the actual holder for the parts or loading station where the parts drop to prior to being driven into place with the mandrel shown below.
Parts Feeder Tack Is Full And Parts Are Held Back
Part Has Dropped Into Loading Position, Mandrel Will Drive Up Laser

Color Laser Marking Medical Devices with Laser Automation next steps

The next important steps to completing laser automaton and color laser marking medical devices is get the part into place for color laser marking to be applied, in this example a mandrel was used as discussed below.

A mandrel or arm driven by a stepper or servo motor can if the part configuration and physical characterizes allow drive the part into a fixed position and hold the part in place while the laser color marks the plastic with required information – this is the method demonstrated in this discussion and was chosen for the following reasons:

  • The parts structure allowed for a mandrel to be easily driven into the part and move the part to a locking loading fixture
  • The mandrel is attached to a rotary fixture and can be rotated 360 degrees which is an important feature for this laser automaton due to:
  • Color laser marking is required in six [6] different locations rotating 360 degrees around the part
  • Location of the first color laser marking on the plastic is critical to the parts proper function and the interior structure of the part can be keyed to stop at a precise and consisted location so the part is always located in the exact same orientation part after part and is loaded and locked in position prior to color laser marking start, this location is also verified by a laser machine vision system discussed later.
Part Is On The Mandrel Locked In Location And Color Laser Marking Has Taken Place
  • Pneumatic and air controls are required to operate the mandrel and create parts placement for color laser marking medical devices, these features are present on the integration for color laser marking medical devices and are demonstrated in the pictures just below:
Pneumatic Controls Panel And Lines
Air Pressure Valve For Air Intake With Over/Under Pressure Alarm

Color laser marking medical device and laser machine vision 

The results of laser should always be checked and verified to be assured laser color marking plastic results are meeting requirements of the end users some of the specifics related to achieving verification of Laser Automation results and proper color laser marking of medical devices are discussed here:

  • Verification of laser color marking on medical devises is critical in order to assure proper operations and the safety of the patient and health care provider.
  • Verification of laser automation results and the color marking on plastic might be required by FDA for certification depending on the reason and function for color laser marking the medical device.
  • In this application laser machine vision verification system is used in several ways.
  • Laser machine vision tools are used to locate features on the part and make sure the part is oriented correctly for laser color marking operations to start, this is a double check on the mechanical orientation described above this process and is shown below with the green highlighted box showing the machine vision system locating in the correct orientation and position the critical feature on the medical device to be color laser marked.
  • The actual laser color marking has six locations 360 degrees around the color laser marked medical device each marking location is independently checked and verified immediately after color laser marking and before the part is rotated to the next marking location this process is demonstrated in the picture below and right with the green boxes highlighting the color laser marking. [green indicating that the color laser marking is readable and is also the correct marking and finally in the correct location].
  • The HMI [Human Machine Interface] displays the inside of the machine and keeps track of key production data, the vision system verification is highlighted and monitored on the right hand side of the HMI with red and green stop lights indicating success or failure of color laser marking results [each layer of level of vision testing is shown with a green stop light if successful and a red stop light if failure occurs, all failures have pictures taken and are written to a permeant file for tracking purposes and for checking physically against actual rejected parts.]
  • Any failure causes an immediate rejection of the color laser marked medical device into a locked rejection bin.
Laser Automation Marking Medical Devices interface
HMI Interface With Key Production Data And Vision Results
Actual Machine Vision Verification Results Highlighted On The Part

Picture of the system with the maintenance access door open showing the system interior, this view is during system assembly and testing and just prior to factory acceptance testing with the end user

About Worldwide Laser Service Corporation

Worldwide Laser Service Corporation [WLSC] is an Arizona Corporation founded in July of 1986 in Phoenix AZ, the original mission of WLSC was to provide parts and service to T.E.A. atmospheric lasers, at the time of WLSC founding the Phoenix Metro area was home to several hundred of the T.E.A. laser and therefore the central Phoenix AZ location of WLSC office served our customer base well. In the next several years many of the manufactures that had been located in the Phoenix Metro area began to move out of state and out of the country and WLSC naturally followed these manufactures to various locations in the United States, Mexico, and Central America, this migration of customer coupled with the growth of our company lead WLSC to move our headquarters from Central Phoenix to the ‘East Valley’ and at that time the new area of Gilbert AZ, where WLSC has remained  our headquarters since. While the Gilbert AZ location service our N. American customers very well, WLSC did establish offices and a distributor network in Central/South America and SE Asia, WLSC continues to serve our customer base from the Gilbert AZ headquarters to this day.

The mission of WLSC is to reduce manufacturing costs, protect products and consumers, and provide an eco-friendly manufacturing environment for our customer base though the use of Laser Automation, contact us in Gilbert AZ URL e-mail voice 480.892.8566