A Tier 1 automotive supplier turned to ICS Laser Technologies Inc., to replace coded stickers on plastic components, which had resulted in an additional cost per part to the supplier's injection molding supplier.
ICS provided data matrix codes molded into the plastics, reducing costs. ICS supplies various lasers, including a five-axis laser ablation system, and the company's technology can ablate the negative image of a 2-D code onto either the mold surface, or onto the end of ejector pins.
But this direct-part marking created relatively low-contrast bar codes that were difficult to read with handheld equipment. The problem was solved by using the dark-field lighting capability of the Cognex DataMan 8600 series of ID readers, which makes the barcode stand out.
“The new direct-part marking method eliminated the need for stickers, saving over $1 million on a single family of parts,” said Ryan Treece, ID sales engineering for Cognex.
Laser ablation removes material from a solid surface by irradiating it with a laser beam. It can happen in milliseconds, said Brendan Watts, creative director at ICS.
ICS and Cognex did not name the Tier 1 auto supplier or the injection molding company.
Watts said the injection molder ships an ejector pin to the ICS facility. “We use a five-axis laser ablation machine to mill the negative of a tiny 2-D matrix code onto the pin and ship it back to the injection molder,” he said. “From that point on, every part is produced with the code.”
The DataMan 8600 scanners provide near 100 percent read rates.
Cognex is based in Natick, Mass.
Tel 877-264-6391, email [email protected].