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Ultrafast laser marker to reduce cost and increase uptime of beverage can production lines

Markem-Imaje, a manufacturer of product identification and traceability solutions, has released an ultrafast fibre laser coder that it says will cut the cost and increase the uptime of high-volume beverage can production lines.

The SmartLase F500 fibre laser coder enhances traceability and anti-counterfeiting efforts by making it easier and more cost effective for manufacturers to put permanent codes onto products, even in high speed production environments.

Applying permanent codes to products on high throughput lines is challenging. Inkjet printers can print at high speed but the codes are not permanent, opening the door to issues such as counterfeiting. Laser marks, which cannot be rubbed off or fade over time, have historically been unable to meet the needs of high-speed beverage can production. The SmartLase F500 now enables manufacturers to print up to 2,400 characters per second on lines running up to 640 metres per minute.

Greater speed and quality
Through the use of proprietary algorithms, the SmartLase F500 laser provides smoother, more precise codes at speeds faster than competitor lasers on surfaces including aluminium and steel beverage cans as well as many plastics, flexible films, extrusion polymers and bare metals.

The precise number of characters and speed will depend on the underlying material and message complexity. For example, the SmartLase F500 can code up to 1,750 cans per minute with 18 alpha-numeric characters 2.6mm high on a 66mm diameter beverage can production line.

Improved uptime and costs
Uptime is enhanced by the aiming diode which expedites code adjustment changeover times and minimizes waste, including when coding small areas. Even at high duty cycles in hot, humid conditions 99.9 per cent uptime is achievable thanks to Intelli’Cool – proprietary fluid dynamics modelling which ensures airflow inside the controller and source cabinet provides the coolest conditions for the laser source and electronics.

By contrast, many competitor laser coders can only operate effectively at up to 40°C with application duty cycles limited to a maximum of 60 per cent as they only have a single fan at the end of the laser and insufficient scan head cooling. Such lasers also incur extra expense in the form of mandatory water cooling above 35°C and/or higher laser source wattage that drives greater capital and energy expenses.

Additionally, the F500’s faster scribing versus competing alternatives lets the laser cool for longer since there is less marking time thereby improving equipment longevity. The meantime between failures (MTBF) for the F500’s laser source is an industry-leading 100,000 hours which helps minimize capital expenditures over the longer term.

‘By helping manufacturers to permanently code products more cost-effectively at higher line speeds, our new fibre laser is an excellent solution for companies seeking to reduce operating expenses,’ said Alexander Koudriashov, current laser product marketing manager at Markem-Imaje. ‘It eliminates ink, improves overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and ensures lifetime traceability of their products.’

Availability of the printer will vary by market and evolve over time. To enquire about a specific country, please contact Markem-Imaje for the most up-to-date information.

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