Panel Builder US

February 1, 2021

Whether manufacturing packaging machines or components for airliners, companies must be able to guarantee all metal parts will remain durable and dependable throughout the product’s lifecycle. Recognizing this challenge, LSP Technologies pioneered an effective method to increase the strength of metal parts: surface treatment with pulsed laser beams. One of their most recent laser peening systems relies on the flexibility of EtherCAT and PC-based control technology from Beckhoff to meet the most diverse customer requirements.

Peening in general describes the processing of metal workpieces for example with hammers, shot peening or in this case, with high-powered lasers, to strengthen the metal and mitigate the effects of material fatigue. In laser peening, also called laser shock peening, a pulsed laser beam is directed at the metal surface while a stream of water flows over the workpiece. This results in a small plasma explosion between the water and the surface enabling the shock waves to travel deep into the metal, making the material denser and stronger and increasing the fatigue life.

Founded in 1995, LSP Technologies (LSPT) has remained at the forefront of laser peening systems worldwide. The Dublin, Ohio-area company provides laser peening services and equipment for many industries, such as aerospace, automotive and maritime. One of LSPT’s most recent advances is the modular Procudo Laser Peening System – a self-contained turnkey system that can be tailor-made for each customer. For this high level of adaptability, LSPT relies on flexible control technology from Beckhoff.

Challenges in development

The Procudo system uses diode-pumped YLF lasers that cover a total bandwidth of 1 to 200 Hz pulse frequency and operate at 20 Hz as standard. While the compact standard system measures 142 x 173 x 335 cm (56 x 68 x 132 inches), some of the customer systems are so large that they can accommodate several articulated arm robots. In addition, it must be possible to design the equipment both for the processing of very large workpieces as well as others that focus on the smallest, most precise details.

Another problem is the synchronization of workpiece and laser positioning: Metal parts, especially large or awkwardly shaped components, are often difficult to move within a machine cell when accommodating fixed-position lasers.

This is particularly challenging with workpieces like massive ship hulls and anchors, for example. “In the past, we generally used part-to-beam processing by aiming the laser at a fixed point in the processing cell and then moving the parts with robotics,” LSPT Vice President Business Development David Lahrman says. “To process very large parts, however, we now use beam-to-part processing, which involves moving the laser with robotic arms from KUKA to peen areas that require treatment.”

Flexible and powerful IPC technology

Initially LSPT was drawn to EtherCAT and PC-based control technology from Beckhoff because of its many interface options, including HMI hardware. Now the built-in CP2912 multi-touch Control Panel and the pole-mounted CP3913 multi-touch Control Panel offer LSPT the options needed for unique client demands, according to Controls Engineer Alex Portolese.

For control purposes, LSPT also uses the CX2040 Embedded PC, featuring quad-core Intel Core i7 processors, to run HMI, connect to the cloud and communicate with higher-level systems. “We like the power and small form factor of the CX2040. With the addition of SQL databases, this allows us to maintain compact electrical cabinet footprints,” Portolese explains. However, the Procudo® Laser Peening System’s standard control hardware for robotics and other laser peening functions is the C5240 Industrial PC (IPC).

Electrical Engineer Avery Calhoun sees additional benefits in the 19-inch rack-mount powerhouse, which also boasts Intel Core i7 processors: “The C5240 is very powerful and provides ample serial and Ethernet ports to connect with the EtherCAT I/O system. The IPC’s form factor is also easy to incorporate with our other rack-mount components.”

Exact synchronization ensures high efficiency

Precise motion control and EtherCAT communication are crucial for the Procudo Laser Peening System. LSPT implements multiple articulated KUKA robots to move lasers, and sometimes also workpieces, to ensure that the beams are positioned with high accuracy.

LSPT also uses AM8000 Servomotors from Beckhoff that offer a robust design with long lasting service life and are equipped with One Cable Technology (OCT), which saves space and costs by combining feedback and power in a single cable. “We have used the AM8000 Servomotors quite heavily in recent Procudo Laser Peening System projects involving beam-to-part processing,” explains Portolese.

Based on EtherCAT, a wide range of I/O modules from Beckhoff provides scalable networking solutions for LSPT. Inside the machine cells where high moisture is present, LSPT uses IP67-rated EtherCAT Box modules and standard EtherCAT I/O terminals in electrical cabinets. LSPT also benefits from integrated safety through TwinSAFE. Safety-related programs are created in TwinCAT automation software and then transferred to TwinSAFE devices throughout the Procudo Laser Peening System, including EL6900 TwinSAFE Logic terminals and EP1908 EtherCAT Box modules.

Powerful components strengthen the system

LSPT achieved its goals for flexibility, enabling the Procudo Laser Peening System to suit the needs of a wide range of applications. As a result of the highly precise synchronization possible with TwinCAT and EtherCAT, the system can process up to 29 square inches (187 cm2) of material per min. Additionally, according to LSPT, the ability to synchronize motion control for the workpieces with laser control is critical to the repeatability and quality of their processes.

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https://www.beckhoff.com/en-us/company/news/news-detail_240625.html

 

Editor's Pick: Featured Product News


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Data Centre and Plant Managers working in small and mid-sized businesses often find themselves searching their buildings for unused space to house the company’s IT and other enclosures.

Mailrooms, empty offices, janitors’ closets…all have been repurposed into data closets holding one to a few racks. This approach may be the right choice in terms of square footage needed, but when it comes to proper climate conditions for sensitive IT equipment, it could not be more wrong. At best, these spaces are cooled using only the building’s AC system. At worst? An open window.

A building’s existing air conditioning system (or combined heat and air conditioning system) is designed to create comfortable environments for employees – the reason they are sometimes referred to as “comfort systems.” When IT racks need to be placed somewhere on site, it’s thought that “any old room” will do because AC ductwork usually terminates in these spaces. However, the reality is that even if you were to add ducts to supplement the building’s AC, relying on a system designed for humans is not a good solution for IT equipment.

Server rooms need more targeted cooling to keep the temperature within a specific range and prevent the servers from overheating. According to ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers), the appropriate temperature range for server rooms is between 64.4 and 80.6 Fahrenheit. This requires a discrete cooling solution capable of monitoring and managing the temperature of both the equipment and the room. The same cooling system must also be capable of regulating humidity within the precise margins required by sensitive equipment. Finally, building HVAC will not provide sufficient airflow volume for heat removal from installed appliances; the CFM requirements for comfort cooling are significantly lower than airflow required to remove heat from the IT devices.

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binder has recently made key additions to its M16 connector series. They are versions that meet the very high data speeds required by the latest sensor-based automation systems and an ASIG-compliant model used in wireless networks including 5G.

binder has been at the forefront of M16 connector development since the 1970s working to widen the range of applications for these versatile circular connectors. Today’s models can accommodate up to 24 contacts – with or without EMI shielding. With mainly metal housings and a robust screw locking system, M16 connectors provide environmental protection up to IP68.

The combination of a high pin count with the compact size of nominally 18.5mm diameter and 60mm in length means M16 connectors offer an excellent alternative to more expensive connector systems. M16 connectors accommodate cables ranging from 4.0 to 10mm diameter, are rated to 250V and can withstand an impulse voltage up to 1500V, with current handling of up to 7A (at 40ºC).

Suitable for 5G roll out

The latest applications for M16 connectors include the impending roll-out of 5G networks where binder’s ASIG-compliant connectors have been designed to provide high international protection for selected outdoor installations. The AISG (Antenna Interface Standards Group) defines standards for the control and monitoring of antenna line devices in the wireless industry.

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Convergint Technologies recenrlt announced the acquisition of Advantage Medical Inc. (AMI), a leader in the deployment and support of wireless patient security systems in acute care hospitals. The acquisition further strengthens Convergint’s position within the healthcare safety and security market across the United States. 

Advantage Medical Inc. brings Convergint over thirty years of healthcare industry expertise, with a specialization in patient security and Real Time Location Systems (RTLS). AMI’s commitment to delivering innovative healthcare solutions is supported by its comprehensive approach to providing security solutions to mitigate risk and enhance protection in healthcare facilities. The company’s dedication to meeting each customer’s unique need aligns with Convergint’s culture.

“Advantage Medical embodies similar values to Convergint; they embrace a culture-first community centered on colleagues and are committed to being their customers’ best service provider,” said Ken Lochiatto, CEO of Convergint Technologies. “We look forward to joining our teams, learning from one another, and further deepening our expertise to continue to deliver best-in-class safety and security solutions across the healthcare industry.”

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