Automation Platforms for Laser Material Processing

Laser cutting, laser welding, laser marking or laser drilling – lasers are used in a wide variety of processes in many different industrial sectors to optimize manufacturing processes and to ensure the high quality of components. This for example, is how the electronics manufacturing, semiconductor industry, automotive industry, or medical technology benefits from the advanced capabilities for laser material processing.

Process, material, work cycle, ambient conditions, and criteria such as throughput, precision, geometry tolerances, size of the machining surface, and contours, all make different demands on the motion control system to obtain high precision and high throughput. This is possible when system components such as the mechanics, laser control, and laser beam steering complement each other and communicate via high-performance control solutions.

Precise Positioning with High Throughput

PI is able to offer automation platforms for high-precision and high-throughput laser material processing that can be used by integrators and end user as a basis for the construction of high-performance turnkey machines. Our ability ranges from single to multi-axis positioning systems and where control of the laser and the motion has to run simultaneously. Systems can incorporate galvanometer to increase throughput and flexibility.

Laser Marking with Single and Multi-Axis Setup

High Dynamic
Compact Design

Marking complex or high value structures is one of the applications for a multi-axis positioning systems. For example,  an invisible to the human eye identification can be  engraved into an item by the laser. The motion of the workpiece in the X, Y direction and positioning of the laser objective in the Z-direction is accomplished by the use of highly dynamic direct drive linear stages. For example the  >>V-528 linear stages linear stages achieve higher velocities and higher scan frequencies that is possible with traditional stepper or rotary servo based solutions. Thanks to their crossed roller bearings, sub micrometer accuracy is possible using motors equipped with highly repeatable and precise linear encoders

The simplest way to find more suitable positioning solution for laser material processing within the PI product range is the product finder. It helps you to find high performance components and systems in accordance with your criteria.

Product Finder

Wafer Dicing with Planar Scanner

High Travel Accuracy
High Flatness
High Constant Speed

Segregating wafer dies also depends on the high accuracy. The cutting width must remain constant and vertical intersections are necessary. In addition, the absolute accuracy is important in order not to damage the individual dies during cutting. The permissible tolerances along the travel range amount to only a few micrometers per meter. The >>A-322 air bearing planar stage, which is moved by linear motor direct drives, is a suitable positioning system for such applications. Such systems achieve high velocities with accelerations of 20 m/s2. At the same time, sine-commutated control provides smooth motion and single digit nanometer positioning possible. The combined controls and mechanics approach ensures maximum throughput and the highest precision.

Stencil and PCB Manufacturing with Gantry Systems

High Precision
High Dynamic
Long Travel Ranges

The requirements for production and processing stencils and printed circuit boards are similar. Workpiece size and feature density can be relatively high. The challenge is provide long travel ranges whilst maintaining micrometer precision. Gantry systems can offer a good solution for these demands. Cable management and operation are optimized so that vertical motion axes, autofocus sensors, and fiber routing system for the laser can be accommodated. The design allows holding the part to remain static while the laser is moved overhead. The absolute measuring systems implemented by PI simplify system initialization because this makes it unnecessary to perform a reference move after switching on.



Laser Marking with a Multi-Axis-Setup including Galvanometer-Scanner

High Velocity
2D Processing

In the case of laser structuring, multi-axis positioning systems with a galvanometer scanner are often combined for steering the laser beam. This leads to good results with respect to dynamics and precision when for example, dials are to be written onto functional components. Motion in the XY direction is then taken over by a positioning stage from the >>V-731 series, which is set up as an XY roller stage. Its linear motors require no additional mechanics and they drive the platform directly. This makes high velocities possible.

Learn more about galvanometer scanners from Scanlab

High Performance Motion Control Systems


In the case of the laser processing process described, it is possible to control the laser directly from the motion control platform easily with a special laser module. It allows direct control of the laser source in order to increase the precision and throughput of the process.

The EtherCAT® slave module of the >>ACS' LCM (Laser Control Module) series offers a broad range of functions, which includes digital pulse modulation for dynamic power control, output impulses or gating signals (on/off signals) that are synchronized to positions along a two to six-dimensional motion path or programmable operation zones. The control module can control virtually any laser via its universal interfaces.

EtherCAT® is an open real-time Ethernet-based fieldbus system, originally developed by Beckhoff Automation. Today, EtherCAT is becoming more and more popular for control and system engineers as a robust, high-speed, real-time network for machine control solutions. The flexibility of the fieldbus system is one reason.

Read how ACS Motion Control solutions benefit from EtherCAT integration

Large Field Marking without Stitching

High Throughput
Simultaneous 2D Processing

Motion systems that employ galvanometer scanners typically operate by moving the part to be processed under the scanner and passing the control to scanner controller to carry out its own individual operation. If the area to be processed is larger than the field of view of the scanner, the above method is repeated in what is referred to as tilling. Large areas with many small details cannot be marked efficiently in this manner. Smaller details may require high accelerations and larger require longer travel ranges. It could be advantageous to separate the trajectories for smaller features with the faster more nimble galvo and use the larger, relatively slower motion system stages to handle larger features. Both systems then need to be a synchronized controller architecture, where the appropriate output is fed to the correct motion platform.

XLSCAN Powered by ACS Motion Control and SCANLAB

The jointly developed XLSCAN motion and gantry control system enables large-area marking and processing. The XL scanning solution extends a laser scan system‘s working field by simultaneously controlling and moving a 2D scan head and a 2D scanning stage equipped with high-dynamic magnetic linear drives. The combined system allows efficient marking of large areas with high throughput and high accuracy.

Read more about XLSCAN motion and gantry control system