Christian Dini, Director Business Development Ophir
What counts most in automated production are high availability and productivity (OEE), coupled with energy efficiency and low downtimes. For laser systems, this necessitates correct adjustment of the laser beam. When the beam parameters deviate from the predefined process parameters, it results in lower quality, higher energy consumption and falling productivity – and it can lead to downtimes or, even worse, product recalls. To avoid this, it’s essential to continually check the laser beam, whether that be in welding or cutting processes or in additive manufacturing. There are various ways of going about this, depending on the fault tolerance of the respective process. At the most basic level, just measuring the power of the focused laser beam provides enough information for processes with higher fault tolerances. No matter which measurement method is used, the issue of data storage – either locally or on a network – is becoming increasingly important.
Traditionally, a power gauge consists of a calibrated sensor and a calibrated display, both of which operate independently of a PC. To read out the data, some of the display units have built-in interfaces. Instead of having a separate display, it’s possible to let the PC handle this function; one simply needs the appropriate software and a calibrated interface. Basically, an Ophir PC interface is a display unit or meter without its own screen. The display unit’s first and foremost task is to convert – very precisely – the analog sensor signal into a digital value that can be presented either on the device itself or on the PC (via software such as StarLab); there’s a wealth of options. But above and beyond the classic hand-held display devices, it’s becoming ever more important to show and evaluate process data on PCs and networks.
The first step in evaluating data takes us to a PC. External Bluetooth interfaces, such as Ophir's Quasar, allow the sensor and interface to be operated wirelessly from any PC.