Northstar Aerospace Inc. manufactures gears, transmissions, accessory gearbox assembles, rotorcraft drive systems and other machined and fabricated parts for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

Northstar Aerospace Inc.’s marking machine is flexible enough to mark 17 different parts. Making changeovers from one part to another requires about a minute.

Northstar Aerospace Inc. (Bedford Park, IL) manufactures gears, transmissions, accessory gearbox assembles, rotorcraft drive systems and other machined and fabricated parts for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The company also performs maintenance, repair and overhaul of gas turbine engines, inertial navigation units and flight control surfaces for fixed-wing aircraft, and complete drive system assemblies for helicopters. Its customers include Boeing Co., Sikorsky Ltd., General Electric and Rolls-Royce aviation.

To accommodate the unique-identification (UID) 2D requirements of the defense and aerospace industries, Northstar recently implemented a portable, semiautomated marking machine from Columbia Marking Tools (Chesterfield Township, MI) to create permanent marks on its gearing components.

The system needed to create permanent, machine-readable 2D and operator-readable codes on 17 different gear and gearbox products. Complete marks include two lines of copy plus the Data Matrix code. A third line of text is occasionally added if there is room.

Other requirements were that the system be able to change over from one part to another in 5 to 10 minutes; that the system’s fixtures locate and lock the parts with no marring or damaging of the part surfaces; and that the system’s touch screen operating system be preprogrammed for marking each of the 17 parts.

The custom marking machine that Columbia Marking Tools built functions as a stand-alone system with industrial casters in its base so that it can be easily moved around the manufacturing floor for positioning in different production areas.

The machine, which includes a heavy-duty welded steel base, can be changed out in about a minute and is equipped with a standard Columbia DPS (Dot-Peen-Scribe) marking unit. This marking system employs a horizontal, stepper-motor-driven marking spindle, configured with a heavy-duty bearing-supported extended pin housing to accommodate the varying reach requirements of the different parts.

The DPS marker makes both dot-peen and proprietary “silent scribe” marks. It is also fully compatible with Columbia Marking Tool’s proprietary Square-Dot technique, which enhances 2D code readability by providing better “fill” of the cells making up the code.

Marking depth is adjustable, and control is provided by a PCS 2000 HMI marking controller. The system also includes a vision system and a 15-inch TFT touch screen display preloaded with Windows XP Pro and Signumberic 6.0 marking software.

Video and on-screen programming simulation is provided as a teach aid to show operators how to enter date codes and serial numbers, as well as change things like text location and orientation.

For more on parts marking, call 800-469-MARK or visit www.columbiamt.com.