Laser-sensitive additives react with a color change to the light of the fiber laser REA JET FL

Laser-sensitive additives react with a color change to the light of the fiber laser REA JET FL

REA Elektronik is project partner for plastics production of the future

Digital and sustainable production line with biomaterials for research purposes in the AI Real Lab of Fraunhofer IOSB-INA

Mühltal/Lemgo, June 22, 2021 - The plastics manufacturing of the future is digital thanks to artificial intelligence (AI). And it is sustainable, because it develops products from CO2 neutral, plant-based materials - which can also be recycled and reused. This is no longer a vision, but already a reality that should be a model for many companies: In the AI real lab at SmartFactoryOWL in Lemgo, a production facility that does all this will soon be launched. Included: a laser marking system from REA Elektronik.

The result has the potential to become an alternative to disposable petroleum-based cups: Finally, a reusable cup made of bioplastic leaves the production line that has the color of the customer's choice and an individual decor. It was developed by the start-up CUNA Products, is made from renewable raw materials, and can be collected and recycled via a recycling circuit set up by CUNA.

What happens before that in the AI Real Lab is no less interesting: Because during production, data are generated and provided to companies via an open platform to help them solve their digital issues and optimize their own processes. The AI Real Lab is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and, since the beginning of 2020, has been part of SmartFactoryOWL, a joint facility of the OWL University of Applied Sciences (Ostwestfalen-Lippe) and Fraunhofer IOSB-INA (Industrial Automation branch of the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation).

Fraunhofer IOSB-INA has joined forces with ten partners for the new demonstration project - from start-ups and medium-sized companies to global players. The medium-sized plastics processing company Hadi-Plast is responsible for production management and operation; the overall concept and integration of the system technology is the responsibility of the mechanical engineering company Arburg with the participation of the globally active robotics manufacturer Kuka. Laser-sensitive additives are mixed into the material: they react with a color change to the light of the fiber laser from REA Elektronik.

"Thanks to its complete suitability for Industry 4.0, our Fiber Laser System REA JET FL fits seamlessly into the production environment in the AI real lab and makes permanent, high-contrast markings even at the highest production speeds," explains Christoph Gasiorek, Area Sales Manager at REA JET. "Contributing to the sustainability of the entire system is the fact that the Fiber Laser marks the coding without any consumables and that it itself is virtually maintenance-free, meaning that it has only low follow-up costs."

The laser-sensitive additives are mixed into the material when the plastic compound is produced. After completion of the part, the laser beam applies its marking inline with the maximum possible flexibility: from characters and logos to 1D and 2D codes (QR codes, etc.), the fiber laser can also change the print content of the marking during ongoing production and individualize and serialize products thanks to its connection to the data system.

Christoph Gaisorek: "We are pleased to contribute to this forward-looking project with our sustainable laser technology and hope that many plastics manufacturers will benefit from it for their own production."

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