Continuing with the journey of investing in new technology to enhance its manufacturing facilities so as to improve the finish and geometry of the tools that the company manufactures and to reduce setup and cycle times, Somta Tools, an OSG Corporation company that is regarded as a global leader in the manufacture of round cutting tools and a company that is listed on the Tokyo stock exchange, has purchased two (Open Frame) Miniopen FR Z20 G20 fibre laser marking systems from Lasit, a specialist manufacturer of laser marking systems, based in Torre Annunziata, Italy.
The Lasit (Open Frame) Miniopen FR Z20 G20 is a Z-axis laser marking system, ideal for marking components with a height variation, equipped with a 50 watt fibre laser power source and is ideal for use in an industrial environment. The machines use the latest innovative ytterbium-doped active fibre technology and can be used for laser marking 2D codes, alphanumerical codes, one-dimensional codes, and logos. Other features include the Smart Focus and Smart Preview functions and a barcode reader is optional.
“Since OSG Corporation became a major shareholder in Somta Tools in 2017 they have showed great faith in our manufacturing capabilities by continuing to approve capex funds for new equipment investment,” said Dilon Mathavalla, Engineering Manager at Somta Tools.
Somta Tools has purchased two (Open Frame) Miniopen FR Z20 G20 fibre laser marking systems from Lasit, a specialist manufacturer of laser marking systems
“We have been marking our product through various methods for many years and laser marking has been part of our operation for 12 years. The machines have become ‘tired’ now and not as productive as we would like them to be. Technology in laser marking has also advanced in this period. The decision to replace some of our existing laser markers became a necessity rather than a want.”
50% increase in production
“A big benefit in the new machines, over and above the faster and neater line markings, the ability to use a wide range of codes and logos, ease of setups and reliability, is the 50 per cent increase in productivity that they are now providing us. With our older machines we could mark 1 000 units an hour whereas this figure has now increased to 1 500 units an hour,” explained Mathavalla.
“Our factory in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal manufactures 7 000 standard items and a further 6 000 made-to-order items to serve the local market and the export markets in over 70 countries worldwide. The pressure to manufacture a large number of tools every month is enormous and we did not need a downstream process like marking, to create bottlenecks.”
“The two new machines are standalone units and no additional services, such as chillers and coolant tanks, are required to run them. This offers additional benefits in the form of floor space saving as the new machines only take up one-third of the space required for the older machines.”
“The two new machines have the ability to mark all of the tools that Somta manufactures – drills, taps, dies, reamers, milling cutters and our special tooling. Marking takes place after the tool or component has been completed and is done using jigs that carry up to 40 tools at a time. We have eight staff and one supervisor working in this department and they are operating on a two shifts basis.”
Laser marking of tools
“The cutting tool industry was one of the first to use laser marking. On tools, Lasit machines mark identification codes for traceability, logos and size and function information. Because each tool has a precise function, the laser marking process cannot change the tool’s geometry by even the slightest degree. Markings are not raised and very visible,” said Mario Rapillo, Export Sales Manager of Lasit.
“A big benefit in the new machines, over and above the faster and neater line markings, the ability to use a wide range of codes and logos, ease of setups and reliability, is the 50 per cent increase in productivity that they are now providing us. With our older machines we could mark 1 000 units an hour whereas this figure has now increased to 1 500 units an hour. The two new machines have the ability to mark all of the tools that Somta manufactures – drills, taps, dies, reamers, milling cutters and our special tooling. Marking takes place after the tool or component has been completed and is done using jigs that carry up to 40 tools at a time.”
“There is a vast array of tools that can be marked. Milling cutters, drill bits, inserts, circular blades and discs and band saws, just to name a few. We specialise in these applications, designing and developing different laser marking systems over the years.”
“The Lasit story started with a laser marking project made for Iscar in the 1990s. Today, they are still our clients. We have gained enormous experience in this field, with 27 different laser systems made for the various applications of this very extensive and very challenging industry.”
Precision tooling: cutters, drill bits and inserts
“The most suitable laser for marking tools is the active fibre optic laser. The marking process for steel tools is generally annealing. The laser heats the surface of the tool locally, generating an oxide layer, which produces a black visual. In the case of carbide or dark coated materials, it is possible to obtain white and high-contrast marking by varying the parameters.”
DataMatrix or QR-code marking verification
“To ensure the traceability of tools, more and more manufacturers are marking tools with a Datamatrix or QRcode code, containing the logo and functional data. With a vision system, we are able to centre marking, read it and verify its qualities according to reference standards. The vision system, depending on the size and geometry of the part to be marked, can be either a TTL (Through The Lens) or side-view.”
“Traceability is one of the biggest benefits of laser marking, although its potential goes well beyond corporate quality requirements. For example, a customer operating a food production line needed to identify a series of stainless steel trays. The customer had found that, if the trays were not maintained properly, the line could become jammed and production would cease. Once the trays were engraved with machine-readable bar codes, the customer used them to record jam events and tie information back to maintenance records, something that previously had been impossible to do.”
“Laser marking of components, or tooling in Somta’s case, is fast and easy and provides visual and information accuracy and fluency. This means that a machinist can scan the laser-marked bar code on a favourite cutting tool and know where and when it was made, who made it and how to get more.”
“Laser marking gives manufacturers and their customers the ability to interact like never before. In today’s digital era, ongoing sales orders can be executed promptly through the information that has been laser marked on the component. This is over and above the many other benefits.”
For further details contact Somta Tools on TEL: 011 390 8700 or visit www.somta.co.za