Universal Camera Registration
Exceptional Processing Accuracy
Many laser material processing tasks require alignment with features on the material. There are several examples of this such as print-cut where the laser system is used to cut out a feature on the material after it has been through a printing process. In these types of applications users often turn to constructing mechanical fixtures to hold the part or material in a specific location and align the laser process to that fixture.
Mechanical fixturing solutions are adequate for some visual applications but have several drawbacks. They can be both time consuming and expensive to create. Aligning the process to the fixture, setting proper focus, allowing adequate ventilation for byproduct removal, and ensuring that the fixture does not interfere with the laser systems moving components can all be error prone tasks. Additionally, if the process is to be repeated in the future, fixtures must be stored and the operator must go through the setup procedure each time.
Universal Camera Registration (UCR) reduces the need for mechanical fixtures while simultaneously providing higher accuracy and repeatability. UCR uses a high resolution camera inside of the system carriage to visually identify features on the part to be processed corresponding to registration marks within the design file. This information is used to align the design file to the material.
UCR can compensate for a wide variety of pre-process and material distortions which typify manufacturing processes which precede laser material modification. Specifically, UCR can adjust the following to ensure nearly perfect registration between the geometry of the material and laser process:
Flexible Registration Mark Types
The UCR allows the user to select from a variety of standard registration marks such as crosshairs and circles. When a design file is generated with these types of marks, the system can automatically identify them on the material leading to both high productivity and flexibility.
In addition to the set of standard registration marks, UCR can use virtually any feature on the part as a point of registration. For example, if a process is to be performed on a printed circuit board, then any feature on that board can be used as a registration point: the center of a screw hole, a small capacitor, a via hole, or a conductive trace.
Manual and Automatic Registration Modes
UCR provides manual and automatic modes for aligning design files to materials. The manual method is useful for processing a relatively small number of parts. In this mode, the user selects the location of each registration mark as seen through the camera. Once all of the locations have been acquired, the process may proceed as usual.
In automatic mode the user simply selects the center location of each registration mark through the interactive software to train the laser system on each registration mark. The UCR will then capture an image of those marks and store them for later use. Each time a new instance is placed in the machine (used as a laser cutter, laser engraver, laser marker, or a combination of such), the UCR automatically recalls the images and locates them using the onboard camera. Automatic mode is useful in batch production where several parts must be produced at a time.
Intuitive User Interface
Camera registration is a powerful and flexible tool, but is still easy to use. A typical workflow follows a basic pattern: