Versatile vision solution for laser marker

25 May 2016

Many materials processing applications now incorporate cameras and suitable software solutions to support the positioning of workpieces and tools, or to perform tasks in the area of visual quality inspection.

ROFIN is an expert in laser material processing and utilises industrial cameras in its desktop laser marking systems.

The EasyMark desktop laser marker is a particularly compact system produced by the company for the engraving of metal or plastic parts in DIN A4 format up to a height of 120 mm. The air-cooled laser beam sources, ranging in power from 10 to 50 W, are fully integrated into the system. To ensure that the marking process is precise, while also avoiding scrap, ROFIN-BAASEL offers the device with a range of different camera solutions. In the basic variant, a 2 MP camera mounted laterally above the workpiece to be engraved supports manual workpiece positioning.

Customers also have the option of enhancing the basic variant with the SmartView solution, which uses a 10 MP camera. In this variant, the camera captures an image of the workpiece, which is then displayed as a background in the engraving software. Against this background image, the information to be engraved can be easily oriented independently of the workpiece's position. This function is said to be particularly useful for objects where the surface to be engraved cannot be defined using a positioning rectangle or, due to the material, a test engraving is not possible. The camera's high resolution enables easy digital zooming on the image and precise adjustment of the engraving's layout. In addition, a relatively inexpensive lens with a fixed focal lens is sufficient, and a single optical configuration provides both an overview image and a pin-sharp detailed image.

ROFIN-BAASEL offers the additional option of Through-the-Lens (TTL) technology. With this technology, a 10 MP camera looks through the deflection mirror and focusing lens along the laser's optical beam path. This allows the camera to capture all optical and electrical fluctuations in laser beam deflection and focusing in the system, and these are adjusted automatically when positioning the engraving layout using the camera image. This enables a high degree of precision.

USB solution
An IDS USB 2 uEye SE industrial camera is used in each of these system variants that can be selected by the customer. These cameras are available with a range of CMOS and CCD sensors, and with a choice of housing variants. The USB interface means that data is sent and power is supplied by a single cable. The digital inputs and outputs for controlling the trigger and flash are optically decoupled and can process signals up to 30 V.

The cameras can be screw-mounted on all sides so can be installed anywhere. A specially developed sensor seal provides protection in extremely dusty environments. The camera filter is also exchangeable and easy to clean.

The most important factor in ROFIN-BAASEL's decision to integrate these cameras into their systems was the software support provided by IDS. This made it easy for the company to integrate the camera into its own Visual Laser Marker (VLM) engraving software and allows for simple model changes.

ROFIN-BAASEL uses two different camera models in its EasyMark systems. If the system needs to be equipped with different camera variants to meet new customer requirements, the camera-specific parameters would simply have to be adjusted and the ROFIN application would not need to be re-programmed. As a result, it is easy, time-saving and cost-efficient to switch between different cameras.

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