Early in 2011, Bruce O’Neill made an important decision for Detroit-based Focus: HOPE’s Center for Advance Technologies. As project manager, he knew the organization’s dot peen-type equipment didn’t always make the best-quality marks on parts Focus: HOPE produces for the Department of Defense, Army and Navy.
Enclosed and mobile, the U-15 EcoMark station
features a pulsed-fiber laser diode marking machine. It marks parts up to 10 by 14 inches and covers a 100-millimeter square marking area. Photo courtesy Columbia Marking Tools


Focus: HOPE was founded in 1968 to fight hunger, economic disparity, inadequate education and racial divisiveness. The Center for Advanced Technologies was established in 1993 to provide individuals the opportunity to earn a college degree in any engineering discipline that integrates hands-on training with academic course work.

“Mostly we do R&D work on special projects related to refurbishing and remanufacturing older components to make them usable and in some cases better-than-new,” says O’Neill. “The identification marks we place on the parts vary widely. Sometimes not much information is required, other times there is a lot. Production can vary from one to 25 parts per job.”

O’Neill wanted a marking machine that met several criteria. First, the machine had to be capable of marking a wide variety of ferrous and nonferrous metals as well as plastic materials. Second, the machine had to be able to apply high-quality alphanumeric characters, bar codes, two-dimensional UID matrix codes, logos and graphics.

Also, the machine’s software needed to allow the download of various CAD files, either by flash drive or through a Wi-Fi capability. Finally, the machine had to be portable so the operator could move it to a workcell on the plant floor where a specific part was being made.

As part of his product research, O’Neill met with Brad Byrne, sales engineer for marking-equipment supplier Columbia Marking Tools. O’Neill decided to purchase Columbia’s U-15 EcoMark station, which features a 15-watt, pulsed-fiber laser diode marking machine.

The EcoMark station’s marking head has a 163-millimeter F-Theta-Ronar lens with 7.5-inch focal length that covers a 100-millimeter square marking area. The marking head assembly also features a hydraulically operated crank that allows Z-axis manual height adjustment.

Enclosed and mobile, the station measures 24 by 30 by 68 inches and has enough table space for 10- by 14-inch parts to be mounted with a T-slotted fixture plate. An integrated fume extractor unit turns on and off with the start and stop of the laser cycle.

For more information on laser-marking systems, call 800-469-6275 or visit www.columbiamt.com.