Laser marking for aerospace parts represents an exciting new area of application for laser marking and engraving technologies. The aerial vehicles assembled by major contractors in these industries incorporate thousands of parts that travel through a complex global supply chain from their point of origin to the manufactured product, with numerous stops along the way. In order to promote quality and accountability throughout the supply chain, parts-makers in this sector are using laser engraving machines to mark products with barcodes and serial numbers that establishes their traceability.
There are significant benefits for manufacturers that choose laser engraving over alternative marking methods for aerospace parts:
Low Variable Costs – Chemical etching is a frequent substitute for laser engraving and entails the use of a strong acid to mark the material. Companies that use this method need adequate wastewater treatment or an appropriately certified third-party company to responsibly dispose of chemical waste, and each new image requires a brand new stencil to be produced. In contrast, laser engraving machines have zero inputs besides the power it takes to run them. This translates into low and predictable costs for manufacturers.
Versatility – From the thousands of feet of wiring that run the entire length of a Boeing 747, to the back-lit panels in the plane’s cabin, laser marking can be applied to every component and part in the global aerospace supply chain.
Permanent Markings – Contractors that build parts for the aerospace and defense sectors frequently seek to demonstrate their commitment to quality in manufacturing through certification with the SAE AS9100D-2106 quality standard. This standard combines the general direction of ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems with specific guidance for the aviation, space and defense industries. Under the guidelines of SAE AS9100 D-2016, parts manufacturers are encouraged to establish traceability of parts throughout the supply chain by assigning unique identification numbers to parts. Traceability markings that are applied to parts during the manufacturing process must be permanent, especially if the part will be exposed to extreme conditions such as high or low temperatures or other environmental hazards (sand, snow, etc.). The laser engraving process removes up to an eighth of an inch of matter from the material surface, assuring a permanent marking.
F-15 Eagle AS 9100 2016
Aerial vehicles like this F-15 fighter jet are made from thousands of components, including entire systems and subsystems that are contracted out to expert manufacturers around the world. Laser marking and engraving can be used to produce permanent, high-contrast traceability markings for each component of the F-15, assuring that any defective part can be traced back to its origin.
Laser engraving machines are comprised of a laser, a controller, and a surface. Designs from vector files are fed into the laser machine software, programming the controller to move the laser in the correct pattern that produces the image on the surface. The operator can modify the controller speed and laser intensity to switch between laser marking, laser etching and laser engraving applications. Laser engraving offers an effective, low-cost means of producing traceability markings for aerospace parts, helping to establish quality and accountability throughout the supply chain.
Contributing Author: Artin Teymourian, Hai Tech Lasers, Inc.
Jinan Xintian Technology Co., Ltd.
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