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Thread: Newb wants help with laser application

  1. #1
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    Question Newb wants help with laser application

    Hi all!
    I'm new to lasers so I searched the web for info on them and found this forum. LOTS of GREAT and useful info! I've already learned a bit, but there's sooo much to learn.

    Anywho... my company has a need that I think can be filled by using lasers. I'm hoping I can explain the situation and someone here can help me either with specifics or by pointing me in the right direction or by telling me that I'm crazy.
    I work at a custom plastic fabrication shop. We have several computer controlled router tables that are highly automated and that cut parts out of plastic sheets. It's standard machining using endmills. These tables are running constantly... each table prolly cuts 20 to 30 sheets of plastic every day (we cut out about 12K different parts every month), and no 2 sheets are the same (see attachment). I need a fast way of labeling all of these parts so the operator can separate them out by job while remove them from the table after the cutting operation.

    I'm a programmer by profession and I helped write the automation that drives these routers, so my line of thinking is that I can generate a text file of X, Y coordinates that would be the points of text (spelling out things like "PART1", "PART2"), convert that file to ILDA, then mount a laser above each table and send that file to the laser that would display the text on each part. The laser would not physically score the material. In fact, the lasers must be safe for minimally trained operators. I have read the laser safety FAQ and if I hear from you guys that this is doable then my company's safety officer and I will read into that more.

    So I've read about ILDA files and have found an old (2000) utility online for converting a text file to an ILDA file, though I'm not sure it lends itself to full automation. I've also seen a thread or 2 in this forum dealing with converting text to ILDA.

    So I guess my first question would be if I get something like this: http://www.lighting-geek.com/rgb-ani...FchFMgodSQIA5Q - a cheap, commercially available laser projector with an ILDA input - and I write (using an SDK?) something that can create an ILDA file, and I send that file to the laser (through a DB-25 cable? attached to a pc?) I can have the laser write several small strings of text in various areas of the table?

    I have more detailed thoughts, but this post is already waaay too long...

    HELP!!!
    (please)

    Attached is a sample of some nestings.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails B43396-0500BLKSMT.pdf  


  2. #2
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    Why not just mount a pico video projector above the piece and display straight text and diagrams onto the plastic? Or am I missing something? really simple, cheap, easy to implement and very safe.

  3. #3
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    My main concern with a projector is that it won't be right enough. I've done some tests with a 200 lumen projector that we have here and in a fully lighted room at a distance of 18 feet solid colors weren't showing up well on the (usually) black material. Some of the parts are smallish (2 inches by 4 inches) and their text identifiers wouldn't be legible. Also, the tables are 10 feet long and in order to span that dimension the projector would need to be at least 30 or 40 feet away.

    Plus, lasers are way cooler!

  4. #4
    mixedgas's Avatar
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    Several companies make systems for this. Most are restricted to Class IIIA power levels for laser safety reasons. Almost All of them use much higher quality parts then in low cost laser show systems, and for good reason.

    Lap Laser, Virtek, Laser Projection Technologies, Z-Laser etc.

    You need a control system with a SDK to drive the scanners in the projector. Pangolin comes to mind, as does the Riya Lasers products. Ignore the people who are going to chime in any second and tell you to do this with a modified sound card. The shop floor is no place to have beam position drift and noise issues.

    You want either a Diode Pumped Solid State Laser, a Helium Neon Laser, or a Single Mode diode laser, simply for the better beam quality then would be found in a average laser show projector. This means you want a small spot size, which is determined by the "Transverse Mode" of the source laser.

    You also want a better grade of galvanometer scanner, ie Cambridge Technologies or Pangolin's Scannermax, maybe Nutfield products. The reason being the need for sharp, very accurate scanning with a scanner position sensor that does NOT drift.

    Steve
    Last edited by mixedgas; 05-23-2014 at 14:29.
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  5. #5
    swamidog's Avatar
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    It would be very doable to use lsx and an Etherdream.

    You can send lsx text data to project via osc. I've written code to do this in the past and can help out.


    Quote Originally Posted by mixedgas View Post
    Several companies make systems for this. Most are restricted to Class IIIA power levels for laser safety reasons.

    Lap Laser, Virtek, Laser Projection Technologies etc.

    You need a control system with a SDK to drive the scanners in the projector. Pangolin comes to mind, as does the Riya Lasers products. Ignore the people who are going to chime in any second and tell you to do this with a modified sound card.

    You want either a Diode Pumped Solid State Laser, a Helium Neon Laser, or a Single Mode diode laser, simply for the better beam quality then would be found in a average laser show projector. This means you want a small spot size, which is determined by the "Transverse Mode" of the source laser.

    Steve

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    You might want to think about a small, but not pico video projector. Telephoto lens options for these devices are ridiculously expensive (more than the projector), but wide angle lens options that allow a short throw (and wide angle) are inexpensive. You could construct the program to project the part # in a video format and because this is an incoherent source no matter how bright you manage to get it, you won't have to worry about OSHA. We use an Acer, 4500 lumen projector to complement our lasers and if projected to a 10 foot screen it is pretty bright even in a well lit room.

  7. #7
    mixedgas's Avatar
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    I have a gazillion promised projects ahead of you. But some time this weekend I may post how to work out your resolution at the target surface. It does not always correspond to either the number of bits of the D/A converter in the controller or to the beam spot size. Its a function of quite a few things. A 4 inch target at 18 feet means you will probably have a dot or cross on the target, and text on a piece or background besides it. You'd be doing very good to have a 1 mm spot size, for example.

    Most systems that do this highlight parts in turn, or scan a outline and flash to the text, then back to the outline.



    Steve
    Last edited by mixedgas; 05-23-2014 at 14:35.
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  8. #8
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    Wow! Thanks for the replies!! This is great!
    I kinda sorta have my mind set on a laser cuz like I said... LASERS!
    Plus, down the road I want to add a "Kill" setting (kinda like in Logan's Run) and I think it would be harder to add that to a projector.

    Serious, I LOVE the part outline/text idea. Like I said, I can make a text file of all the 2D points in whatever format is required. I need to look into these conversion tools and how to get the file to the laser.

    "Almost All of them use much higher quality parts then in low cost laser show systems, and for good reason" - I will keep that in mind. I've seen some posts in this and other forums about the pitfalls of getting "the cheap stuff".

    This process needs to be totally automated so I don't think that anything like LSX will work for me (if I'm correct in assuming that LSX = LaserShow Xpress and that a user manually designs frames in that user interface).

    Now to try to translate some of the terms and products that have been mentioned...
    *consults the Google*

  9. #9
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    The Etherdream has an open API so you could try to cook something together.
    LSX would work since you can send it signals with OSC, but is overkill for this application.
    "We thought our liFe by aN allegory with a jOurney, with a pilgRimage, which haD a serious purpose at the end, the thing was to get to that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after your death. But we missed the point the whole way along. It was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing, or dance, while the music was being played."

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