Industrial Laser Buying Guide: 6 Must-Ask Questions Before Purchasing

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Industrial Laser Buying Guide: 6 Must-Ask Questions Before Purchasing

A business considers the purchase of a new industrial laser for a variety of reasons. The one they have may have outdated technology and they need an upgraded system. They may have a new product that requires laser marking, cutting, drilling or some other application. A company may be opening a new facility and integrating laser technology to its system.

Whether a company is new to lasers or it’s a technology they’ve used for years, there are certain questions that all customer should ask during the evaluation process. An industrial laser is a significant investment and buyers should have every assurance a proposed solution will solve their manufacturing challenge.

This guide will walk you through the six questions you should ask of your laser provider before making a purchase:

Start With the Laser

The first questions need to be about determining the right laser for the application.

1. Can the laser perform the required task?

This question may seem obvious – and it is – but it does need to be asked and examined. Technology changes fast and the range of laser options has increased substantially over the past few years.

To find the optimal laser solution, customers need to consider the type, range and power to match their application. This question is a starting point and helps narrow down the choices.

2. Can the process meet the required quality?

No matter the application – marking, etching, drilling, welding – an industrial laser needs to meet the quality standards set by your company.

3. Can the process meet the required cycle time?

Lasers often have to integrate into greater systems and keep pace with the rate of production.  Determining an acceptable speed for the laser to perform the specific function is essential. Different options may need to be considered in order to find the right laser to do the job at the required speed.

Validate Laser Performance

After narrowing down the choices for a potential laser purchase, a customer needs to verify that the laser will be able to complete the task required with a consistent quality level and within time constraints.

4. How can you guarantee an industrial laser’s performance?

This question is about quality control and all aspects of the laser’s performance should be reviewed as it relates to the specific product and material to be processed.

Validate the following areas for quality:

  • Machine vision: Register part location prior to process to assure process location.
  • Post-production: Measure the process quality, readability, location post-part processing.

The validation process requires a well-equipped laser applications lab with vision systems, IR detection equipment and other validation equipment, such as high-powered microscopes and imaging systems.

In addition, it’s helpful to be able to experiment with wavelengths, which requires access to different optics and accessories, to ensure you’re getting the best results for the application.

Integrate the Laser

5. How will the laser integrate with your production?

An industrial laser rarely works on its own; it’s part of a greater manufacturing process that could involve automation, material handling (i.e. conveyors), operators, and robotics. Considering the greater scope – and how the laser will work best in that system – is essential.

There may need to be some experimentation done to find the right combination of automated elements to meet your business’s needs.

6. Will the system exceed your production needs?

When making such a significant purchase, a business is making an investment in the future. While growth is not certain, that’s ultimately the goal, and you want to be sure your capital investment will not only be able to handle current production needs, but also future production goals.

To get to an answer, part handling and throughput analysis should be done.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, a business needs assurances their investment is going to fulfill manufacturing requirements and integrate well into existing systems. Not all laser manufacturers offer these assurances and buyers are left to use their best judgement and analysis to determine if it will.

Control Micro Systems is a laser integrator, we work with our clients to develop customized laser solutions that are built and designed with the application, client and their integration requirements in mind.

We call the above process outlined above by the acronym “L.A.V.A.,” which stands for Laser Application Validation Automation. Find out more about our L.A.V.A process and how it can help your business purchase the right laser solution for your manufacturing challenges.

Check out our additional Industrial Laser Buying Guide resource, which examines five key differences of selecting a laser integrator vs. laser manufacturer.