Inside every submarine, train or aircraft are enormous lengths of wire that snake their way through the structures to provide an electrical nervous system for the vehicle. With so many different wires, all with different functions, it’s important in manufacturing to be able to track every single one, including the placement of wires and the type of base used such as heavy copper pcb. One of the most common methods for doing this is laser marking, which provides legible, resilient and accurate inscriptions.
But what makes laser wire marking superior to the alternative methods?
What is laser wire marking?
Laser wire marking is a process that permanently marks the insulation material that wraps around wires. Inside the marking machine is a metal disc with cutouts of all the letters, numbers and symbols that could possibly be needed to make the required mark. For each character, the disc spins to the appropriate position and the laser light shines through it onto the wire in the shape of the cutout. When the laser light hits the wire, it reacts with the titanium dioxide in the insulating material, changing its colour to a darker tone and leaving behind a permanent mark. This process continues until all the characters have been put onto the wire.
These markings can provide information about the manufacturer, the product or specific wire’s function, or other information depending on the industry regulations. Today, many military and aerospace specifications require that wires are marked using the laser method.
Why is laser wire marking better than other methods
1. More versatile and less damaging
Laser wire marking doesn’t damage the wires as other methods can. The oldest way of marking wires that’s still used in some applications today is hot stamping. In effect, hot stamping presses a hot mould coated with pigment into the wire’s insulation. The problem with this is that it relies on damaging the structural integrity of the wire. Hot stamping has the potential to break through the insulation down to the wire, which can cause problems if fluids or other contaminants are able to get in.
Unlike hot stamping, laser wire marking can be used effectively on materials like Teflon wiring.
2. Can be used on thinner gauge wiring
The aircraft of today have more advanced avionics and electronics on board than ever. For these to work, however, they need more wiring, and more wiring means more weight. To combat this problem, thinner gauged wires are used to create complex Electrical Wiring Interconnect Systems (EWISs) that get the job done without adding excessive bulk. Laser wiring marking is one of the few methods that can mark these thinner wires effectively, because it doesn’t damage the insulation itself.
3. It’s fast
Hot stamping wires is a time-consuming process. There are many things that can go wrong, and it’s important that each wire is checked after its marked to make sure no damage has been done. Laser wire marking, on the other hand, is quick, efficient and carries far less risk of damaging the wire itself.
4. No consumables used
Another technique that has developed in response to the shortcomings of hot stamp marking is ink jet marking. This is essentially a process of printing the information onto the plastic insulation’s surface. As well as being difficult to use on certain materials like Teflon and less durable, ink jet marking also requires the use of a consumable in the form of ink. Laser wire marking, by contrast, uses no such materials as it’s just the light from the laser changing the chemistry of the pre-existing material.
5. It’s reliable
Both ink jet and hot stamping methods have many factors in the process that can go wrong, and sometimes, this leads to mistakes. Laser wire marking, by contrast, is highly accurate, with fewer pieces in the process to go wrong.
Interconnect Systems and laser wire marking
Despite the benefits laser wire marking brings to manufacturers and engineers, the machines that do the actual process are expensive. However, you can still get the benefits of quality laser marking without the upfront cost a machine would demand by having your wires marked by Interconnect Systems.
Specifically aimed at aerospace Teflon based wire and cable, our machine is approved to the BAC 5152 BOEING wire marking specification. We are CASA approved for the supply of Aircraft Laser Wire Marking and are able to provide CASA Form 1 release certificates for Aircraft Laser Marked Wire Kits.
We also offer exceptional service to our customers. Your enquiry will be answered within an hour and we give realistic lead times that take into account all the necessary stages of the process. Our CASA approved Laser Wire kits offer value for money and guaranteed performance, as well as coming with a Certificate of Conformance.
To enquire about our laser wire marking services, contact a member of the team today.