Precision is paramount for the aerospace industry. By minimizing the amount of defective parts, downtime and human error, our industry-leading laser solutions can help you meet your budget targets, as well as critical federal and international specifications.
AerospaceLaser wire and parts marking, wire stripping and welding for demanding aerospace applications
The Advantages of Laser Wire Marking
According to SAE standards, aerospace wiring must be marked every three inches. Our lasers provide a high-quality, non-contact method for permanently marking wire and cable with alphanumeric characters, graphics or barcode information.
Laser systems are a reliable alternative to impermanent marking methods, such as direct ink or hot stamping, which require a lot of maintenance. Unlike hot stamping, laser marking doesn’t damage the wire or change its electrical or mechanical properties. It also results in permanent marks that don’t wear off due to solvents or friction.
How it works. UV laser wire marking—the specified method for many civil and military aircraft—works by absorbing radiation on the insulation’s surface. This process initiates a reaction with the UV-sensitive titanium dioxide particles in the insulation, causing the particles to change colors by rearranging their crystalline structure on a microscopic scale. The result is a dark, 20-μ deep mark on the white insulation.
Our laser marking systems provide several advantages, including:
- Permanence. Laser marks represent a color change in the insulation that can’t be removed. The process doesn’t weaken the insulation or conductive material.
- Flexibility. Markings can include text and graphics in various fonts, sizes and orientations. To make changes, simply load the mark from your job file or MES system over a network connection.
- Many sizes, types and materials. Our laser systems mark flat, round, twisted pair, single core, multi-core and coaxial cables with 6 to 26 gauges. Choose from white or colored insulation materials, including PTFE, ETFE, XLETFE and FEP.
- And more. Our systems support infinite text lengths, variable end mark distances and variable continuous mark distances. They also provide identical text marking and optional programmable text for each wire end. Using the serialization option, you can even mark cables with date codes and time stamps for tracking purposes.
Mechanical Versus Laser Wire Stripping
Failure is not an option for aerospace wires and cables, which must endure extreme temperatures, high voltages and vibration. This durability, however, makes stripping them a challenge.
Many mechanical stripping methods have emerged over the years that utilize blades, cutters, chemicals and heat. These methods run the risk of damaging the conductive material—causing the wire to fail.
This is where laser stripping comes in. This non-contact method utilizes laser wavelengths, which are absorbed by the insulator and reflected by the metal conductor. Laser stripping causes no damage to the conductive material and is undoubtedly the easiest, most precise stripping method available today.
Thanks to laser stripping, you don’t have to worry about replacing or sharpening blades, disposing of hazardous chemicals or contending with electrical currents. It also lets you easily meet stringent NASA and FAA standards for conductor damage.
Our laser stripping capabilities support the following:
- Insulation materials—enameled coatings, epoxy, ETFE, fiberglass, Formvar, Kapton, Kynar, Milene, Mylar, nylon, polyester, polyesterimide, polyethylene, polyamide, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinylidene fluoride, polyurethane, silicone and Teflon
- Cable types—single and multi-core, twin leads, twisted pairs, shielded, screened, ribbon, coaxial and complex coils
- Size range—6 to 28 gauge, and up to 11.4 inches for ribbon and flat cables
- Infinite variable stripping lengths from 0 to the wire’s full length
- Various stripping modes to ensure slugs remain on the strands
Aerospace Parts Marking
Modern aircraft include millions of parts, which—in addition to the wires and cables—need marking. From cabin plastics, to metal mechanical components, each part requires serial numbers, codes and other critical identifiers.
Lasers are already a popular marking method for backlit plastic panels in the aerospace, automotive and consumer products industries. The laser beam ablates a coating or layer of plastic from the part’s surface—exposing the clear, translucent plastic underneath. Other plastics contain additives that change color when a certain wavelength is applied to them.
Because the material physically changes during the process, marks can’t be removed due to friction, wear or atmospheric conditions. You also don’t have to worry about bit or blade sharpening, tooling setup or waste removal since the laser never makes contact with the part.
Our laser marking systems offer many advantages, including superior speed, precision and cost savings. They can mark 2D codes inside the slots of small screws, for example, and maintain tolerances >10 μ. Directed by high-speed galvos, each beam can mark thousands of characters per second.
Laser Welding Achieves High-Quality Seams
Welding defects must be kept to a minimum on commercial aircraft and space vehicles, where distortion, cracks and porosity can lead to failure. While zero-defect welding is difficult to achieve outside a vacuum, laser welding provides superior seam quality compared to other methods.
- Easily adjust between parts, creating deep, mechanically strong welds, narrow hermetic seals—and everything in between
- Process parameters provide excellent repeatability weld to weld
- Less heat is transferred to the surrounding metal, lowering distortion at the weld seam
- Consistent energy to the weld spot provides excellent speed—up to 200 inches per minute—and seam quality
- The process eliminates voids and pockets for superior thermal control
- Achieve deeper welds and better weld aspect ratios