Have you ever pondered the significance of installing a proficient extraction system in a production line when utilising a scribing laser system for imprinting traceability codes? This blog post provides the answer to your query. We’ve engaged with specialists in this field: Luit Bakker, Key Account Manager at Domino Benelux, and Phil Benbow, Global Product Manager for Extraction at Domino.
Phil Benbow, says: “Independent of using a CO2, UV or fibre laser, when a laser is used to code onto a product, it removes material from the surface of the product. This creates fumes and debris at the point of ablation that end up in the air and on the production area. Depending on the laser used and the surface of the material that has been lasered, this is to a greater or lesser extent. To remove these substances and keep the production environment clean, an effective extraction system is really essential.”
Debris, dust, fumes and particles
Luit Bakker highlights the importance: “Without proper extraction, fumes and particles caused by lasering pollute the production environment. It should be a priority to ensure these contaminants do not cause hazards or impact production. From my experience installing an efficient extraction system can help comply with safety regulations and maintain productivity by avoiding a build-up of contaminants from the lasering process on the machines and systems.”
And Phil adds: “Consider, for example, the debris settling on the lens of the laser or on a camera system. Ultimately, this contamination can lead to poor coding quality and possibly damage the equipment. Resulting in downtime and reduced production for enhanced maintenance requirements, cleaning and repairs, plus adding repair costs; additionally, it can shorten the life of the production equipment.
In essence, extraction is essential to ensure uninterrupted production and good coding quality. From our experience, an additional benefit is that the laser lens lasts much longer.”
How does an extractor work?
In simpler terms, a shroud, nozzle, or hose is placed near the area where the laser removes material to capture the debris. This debris is then pulled into an extractor. Inside the extractor, filters are used to efficiently remove any smoke or particles produced during the laser process. The purified air can either be released back into the factory (vent-to-factory) or completely removed from the system (vent-to-air).
Is your extraction system efficient?
Numerous companies have already outfitted their production lines with extraction units for their laser systems, a step in the right direction. However, how can you determine whether your extraction system is functioning correctly and optimally?
Luit tells us: “Poorly functioning extraction can be recognised by several things. Increased maintenance is required, visible debris on the machines or the print quality is bad. Looking more closely, the lens of the laser is dusty. In some cases, the laser system has simply failed altogether. In addition, over time, more and more dust and dirt accumulates in the hose of the extraction system”.
Please take a look at these images: the ones on the left display extraction hoses that have accumulated a substantial amount of debris that might otherwise have settled on products, lasers, and production machinery. Now, these hoses require cleaning to maintain their effectiveness. On the right, you can observe soiled laser lenses from lines that lacked adequate extraction systems. As you can readily imagine, the performance of these lenses is significantly compromised, and they will no longer produce high-quality codes.
Hence, it’s not only crucial to have extraction systems in place but also to ensure they are well-suited for your specific production needs. Here are a few illustrative examples:
- High-throughput production lines necessitate extraction systems designed for heavy-duty operations.
- PVC manufacturing generates acidic fumes, necessitating filters specifically designed to handle these emissions.
- Food and beverage can coding requires equipment tailored to handle aluminium debris and the challenging, often moist working environment.
Which extraction system to choose
Indeed, a reliable extraction system is indispensable for every laser installation to maximise output. This ensures seamless production without disruptions, minimal laser system maintenance, and consistently high-quality coding. On the contrary, envision the adverse scenario: line interruptions, increased expenses for repairs and replacements, downtime, and product rejections due to illegible manufacturing data.
But how do I find the perfect extraction system for my production environment? Luit: “Seek expert support to help investigate your application in detail before recommending a solution. I regularly give companies help and advice on what is the best choice of extraction system for their requirements”.