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Laser Cutting System Achieves 40x Performance Enhancement
Posted Mon January 29, 2007 @05:49PM
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News Fico, member of the Besi Group, used engineering fluid dynamics analysis software EFD.Pro to obtain an amazing 40x performance enhancement in their new laser cutting system. The company successfully optimized airflow in their new equipment to deal with the dust created as a result of the cutting process. As a result, system maintenance intervals increased from 15 minutes to 11 hours in record time.

"In the past this process would have consisted of trial and error and would certainly have taken a lot longer than 90 days," explained Peter Venema, engineer. "When we proved that we had a reliable model, we were able to speed up the process significantly."


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Fico develops and markets a large range of chip packaging systems for mobile phones, PDAs, modems, computers as well as other electronic appliances. Their new generation of machines uses lasers as they are the ideal method for cutting printed circuit boards (PCBs) and memory cards. The laser optics are protected by a glass window. The dust chamber prevents the laser light from escaping and protects the operator from dust and smoke.

Shortly after designing one of their new machines for a client, the team noticed that the laser lost effectiveness within 15 minutes. The dust created as a result of the cutting process seemed to contaminate the glass and absorbed the laser light, therefore stopping the laser from reaching the PCB material. Since cleaning the glass required machine downtime and loss of productivity, the engineering team at Fico had an interesting challenge.

“We needed to increase the cleaning interval to meet our customer requirement of at least 4 hours,” recalls Venema. “We had to find a solution to prevent dust contamination and do it quickly since we were at a production facility.”

To solve their problem, Fico relied on a combination of Pro/ENGINEER for solid modeling and EFD.Pro, the Pro/ENGINEER embedded fluid dynamics software to analyze airflow and dust collection. Venema, who is a materials scientist by background, had no prior experience with using fluid analysis software. “Although I had no training on the use of EFD.Pro, I found it quick and easy to use,” said Venema.

Fico reached their customer’s requirement of decreasing downtime to once every 3.5-4 hours in about 30 days. “Once we reached our initial goal we went back to the drawing board to find a better solution,” said Venema. They reached the final solution of 11 hours of continuous runtime 3 months later. Venema believes that the cleaning interval can be further increased to 16 hours; however, that has to be verified in a production environment.

Airflow
This design provides good airflow but the circular movement in the middle of the dust chamber transports dust towards the glass window at the laser inlet. Cleaning interval: 15 minutes or approximately 500 products.

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