Clever couplings for laser cutters and engravers

Louise Davis

Despite originating in the 1960s, laser cutting still offers a highly precise method to cut and engrave a huge array of materials.

One business at the forefront of this technology is CadCam Technology, which provides advanced laser cutting machines to the sectors such as automotive, textile, medical and military.

Flex M coupling for laser cutting accuracy

Used by many large-scale manufacturing operations, laser cutting relies on a focused laser beam directed at a material. The laser melts or vaporises the material to achieve cutting or engraving with a quality finish. CadCam Technology can provide machines to precisely cut plastics, fabrics, technical textiles, labels, leather, wood, paper, glass, flooring, foam and vinyl. However, it is an application where the positional accuracy of the laser element is of paramount importance – which is where the Flex M coupling comes in.

As a brand of the Altra Industrial Motion Corporation, Huco holds an extensive track record in providing high precision couplings. Regularly supplying solutions to the food and beverage, oil and gas, mobility, motion control, medical and electric vehicle sectors – precision and reliability are at the heart of the couplings range.

The thin pressed, heat treated steel membranes allow the Flex M to help tolerate and compensate for any slight misalignment, with torque resolved to simple tensile stresses in opposing segments of the membranes. With the double stage version specified by CadCam Technology, the two membranes provide even greater misalignment capacity. This effectively insulates the laser element from any transmitted stresses the shaft may produce, maintaining a precise cut during operation.

This is highly advantageous, as the coupling enables the accuracy of the X-axis (the axis on which the laser moves) to be maintained by its action on the driveshaft. This helps to maintain the accuracy of the machines, which is within 0.025mm.

Flex M coupling for laser cutting speed

The Flex M coupling sees use on CadCam Technology’s certified Class 1 machines, which use water- or air-cooled CO2 lasers. Software controls the adjustment of both cutting speed and laser power output, which results in a fine, highly accurate depth of cut. In addition, closed-loop servo motors and hardened steel rails combine to provide precision movements with up to 2G of acceleration.

High speed operation is supported by the coupling’s dynamically balanced construction, which provides a maximum speed of up to 5,000rpm. Torque range extends from 0.9Nm to 11.3Nm. The coupling’s excellent kinematic properties and its low bearing loads ensure that it places minimal stress on associated equipment, safeguarding overall service life of associated equipment. These characteristics mean the Flex M is ideal for highly dynamic position and velocity control systems, making it a popular choice in precision applications across the engineering spectrum.

Flex M coupling for minimised maintenance work

Laser cutters and engravers in manufacturing operations are also expected to be highly productive as well as precise, a factor that the coupling addresses with its long service life, ensuring that maintenance work is minimised. An operating temperature range of between -40°C to 120°C means that the coupling can operate in any production environment.

For a business such as CadCam Technology, reputation is tied to ensuring repeatable accuracy. Using components such as the Flex M coupling helps to ensure this reputation is upheld in any industry its laser cutting and engraving machines operate in. In this instance, the coupling can claim to be a real guiding light.

Andrew Bargh is with Huco


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