From Markers to Lasers
As aircraft manufacturers are building bigger planes, they’re looking for the ways to reduce weight.
Gary S. Vasilash
Editor-in-Chief, Gardner Business Media, Inc.
As aircraft manufacturers are building bigger planes, they’re looking for the ways to reduce weight. Airbus, for example, for the A380, is using aluminum wire where appropriate. It is worth noting that an A380 uses on the order of some 500 kilometers (a.k.a., 311 miles) of wire and cables, so this is a non-trivial quantity.
One challenge is that there are points at which the aluminum wire must be crimped, and as the wires are covered so as to be waterproof, it has been a standard practice to use felt-tipped markers to indicate locations along the wire. Not exactly a technical means for such a highly technical craft.
But a process has been developed to perform the operation using a laser system, which is being patented by Airbus and Laselec, a firm that produces cable and wire marking equipment.
The laser system provides permanent marks without damaging the insulation. Laselec has developed both the marking systems, the Ulys Modena and MRO 200, as well as test systems, the MT 200, which verifies the contract level after UV laser marking, and the COMET, which checks the contrast of the markings on the cable.
Somehow, the laser just seems more appropriate than a Sharpie in this application.