Modular Laser Workstation Integrates Laser, Controller, and Optics

April 1, 2000

6 Min Read
Modular Laser Workstation Integrates Laser, Controller, and Optics


Modular Laser Workstation Integrates Laser, Controller, and Optics

A closed-circuit CCD camera and monitor enable direct viewing

A fully modular Class I laser workstation has been designed for precision seam, lead, and spot welding in medical device and other applications. According to Mark Plasse, vice president of manufacturing at Litron Inc. (Springfield, MA), the BT-40W workstation is unique because it is "self-contained, has a small footprint, can be rolled on casters, and can be plugged into a standard 110-V plug." With a footprint of 60 x 28 in., the workstation can be used in a variety of locations, including cleanrooms, production lines, and application labs.

This laser workstation incorporates an air-cooled laser chiller.

The workstation uses a Trumpf (Farmington, CT) 40-W pulsed YAG laser that has a maximum pulse-peak power of 4 kW. The laser, which is operated using laser firing switches on either side of the cabinet, can be powered by either a 110/230-V single-phase dedicated line or a 110-V, 30-A line. For direct viewing of laser welding operations, the unit contains both a high-resolution stereomicroscope and a closed-circuit CCD camera and monitor. Other capabilities of the laser include single- and continuous-pulse operation for spot and seam welding, adjustable pulse duration from 0.5 to 20 milliseconds, and a programmable focus spot from 0.3 to 2.0 mm. A unique feature, Plasse noted, is the inclusion of an air-cooled laser chiller in the unit. "A chiller system is usually not included within a self-contained unit, and it is usually water cooled, not air cooled."

The BT-40W is the only workstation on the market to come equipped with a GE Fanuc four-axis PLC, according to Plasse. Both the 6 x 6 x 6-in. motion system and the 6 x 18-in. universal mounting plate can be scaled to customer requirements. Access doors on both ends of the workstation allow for maintenance, setup, or part feeding through a production line environment. Removable side doors offer access to the fume extraction, shielding gas supply, and laser chiller systems. Additionally, the control panel can be operated from either side of the cabinet. The workstation can be fitted with a variety of pulsed YAG lasers ranging in power from 50 to 500 W or a 350-W continuous-wave YAG laser.—David Bowen

RF-Weldable Polyolefin Film Introduced

No equipment modification is necessary for drop-in product

A new RF-weldable polyolefin film features a variety of properties and characteristics that are desirable for medical device manufacturers. Until now, polyvinyl chloride, thermoplastic polyurethane, and EVA were among the few types of film that could be RF welded.

Introduced by the Dow Chemical Company, Fabricated Products (Midland, MI), at the recent MD&M show in Anaheim, CA, Covelle film reportedly allows manufacturers to process polyolefin film without investing in new capital equipment. In addition, they may be able to downgauge their material without compromising performance.

0004P12b.jpgRF-weldable polyolefin film is flexible and tear and puncture resistant.

"Covelle film is a drop-in product for RF welding," says global marketing manager Bart Bowser. "No equipment modification is necessary. Converters can process this material on the welding equipment they are currently using in their plant," he says. And because it is a polyolefin-based product, Covelle is a competitively priced film that can offer users substantial savings over a wide range of materials they may be currently using, he adds. "Polyolefins have a lower density, which enables an increase in yield of up to 30% compared with PVC."

A stable film that will not turn brittle, the material can be sealed either by radio-frequency or heat methods, and its properties include flexibility and tear and puncture resistance. In addition to bags and pouches, the material is suited for use in inflatable devices and it can be heat-seal laminated with nonwovens for the fabrication of surgical gowns.

Polyolefin generally withstands gamma and EtO sterilization and resists a wide range of chemicals. Covelle is currently available for evaluation and can be clear or white, smooth or embossed.—Norbert Sparrow

Pinch Valve Features Multiposition Sensing Technology

Sensor detects if there is tubing in the valve and if it is open or closed

Most pinch valves only confirm if the valve has opened, but the Model 932 valve introduced by Acro Associates (Concord, CA) also indicates if it has closed. "In light of safety issues, confirming that the valve has closed is as important as confirming that the valve has opened," says Al Huntley, president of Acro Associates. "For one reason or another, a valve may not close correctly and allow flow when it shouldn't. This valve therefore provides an enhanced level of safety."

0004P12a.jpgThe Model 932 pinch valve provides an enhanced level of safety.

The valve is designed to be used with disposable tube sets. Typically such valves are accessible on a front panel so that tube sets can be easily loaded for each procedure. If tubing is taken out of a valve inadvertently, the valve's tube-detection feature immediately notifies the system of the malfunction. Huntley explains, "When tubing is placed in the valve and it's closed, the tubing, because of the thickness of its walls, holds the position sensor away from its completely closed position. In that way we can determine if there's tubing in the valve."

Typical applications include dialysis machines, IV systems, mobile blood-collection systems, and surgical blood-recovery systems.—Karim Marouf

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