Lasers have been used commercially for a number of decades to strip the insulation from high value and complex wires and cables to enable an accurate electrical connection. Typical applications are where the wires are small and delicate (as in medical wires) or where the insulation or configuration is challenging, and conventional methods are causing quality issues (such as in the automotive and consumer electronics industries).
Motors and stators used in the automotive industry are made from “magnet wire”, which is a copper wire or a bar coated with polyimide. Traditional means of removing the enamel insulation from such wires/bars include induction heating and brushing, abrasive wheels and mechanical blades. These methods require significant maintenance, with regular replacement of broken parts or blunt blades. The underlying conductors are also more likely to be damaged by nicks and scrapes from the use of such tools. The advent of electric vehicles and general requirements for more efficient automotive motors is driving a huge increase in the use of hairpin designs, which in turn requires a significant increase in enamel removal to be undertaken.
In response to these market demands, Laser Wire Solutions are launching their unique in-line 4-beam laser system known as the Viking-4. This system will allow for the removal of enamel from round wires up to 3 mm outer diameter and from rectangular magnet wires of up to 20 mm x 20 mm with strip lengths up to 100 mm as standard. Other applications for this type of technology are aerospace and medical devices – in fact, wherever a high value motor is used.
Laser trumps over conventional heat, blade and brushing methods by providing repeatable, high precision ablation, i.e. full removal of the enamel 360 degrees from around the wire. The laser beam harmlessly reflects off the conductor leaving it fully intact, thus allowing for a precise connection. The other significant advantage is that the laser machine is maintenance-free and provides a rapid return on investment, especially at the current launch price, which is significantly less than any comparable system on the market.
The Viking-4 is just one of 6 machines being demonstrated at the show on the Laser Wire Solutions’ Stand 561 located in Hall A5. These include the established Mercury line of polymer insulation laser strippers which are now successfully deployed across a wide range of industries. The Mercury-4 and Mercury-4E (the big brother version of the Mercury-4) provide a solution to many applications because of their compact design, high performance and versatility. Two other relatively new additions to the Mercury range – the Mercury-5 and Mercury-6 laser wire strippers – are specifically designed to tackle the rugged insulation of larger diameter high voltage cables used in the batteries of electric vehicles. The Mercury-5 features an auto-focus design that allow the user to change quickly between different cable sizes. The rotary design of the Mercury-6 allows the circumferential and length stripping of multi-layer cables.
Another show highlight will be the inline Odyssey-4 system. This UV wavelength laser product meets the need of medical device manufacturers to accurately, consistently and cleanly strip fine gauge enamel coated wires used in the most sophisticated miniature medical devices, including RF ablation catheters and pacemaker electrodes. Wires can be quickly and cleanly stripped and cut on a reel to reel transport system.
From a turnover of just £0.5 million in 2015, the company is now on target this year to reach £5 million in sales, of which 99% is exported. As a result of cumulative rapid growth, Laser Wire Solutions has been picking up a string of awards and accolades, including the Queens Award for International Trade in 2018, the Queens Award for Innovation in 2019 (in recognition of the technological breakthrough of its Odyssey-4 system) and has this year reached 42nd position in the FT1000 Fastest Growing Companies in Europe in 2019.