In the late 70’s Control Laser, partnered with Siemens, came up with a new way to mark on various materials. It is a method so common today that the history is often long forgotten. Laser marking was born with an idea, some ambition, and all the right people with a passion to push the technology of the time to the limits. The two companies joined forces and, with signed NDAs tucked securely away, set out on a path that would change how we mark things, forever. Under this canopy of secretiveness, CLC provided the laser source, and Siemens provided the computer to control the laser. The result was the beginning of an era, the birth of new possibilities and of the Mini Marker ND:YAG laser marking system. This new system would catapult CLC to the top of the laser industry as manufacturing companies raced to have these systems installed. During any given month in this time CLC would ship out 100-laser systems, or more. Fast-forward nearly 40-years and we find that some of these old dinosaurs, as we lovingly call them, are still breathing fire.
Pictured, left, is just one component to the Mini Marker laser marking system: the laser RF driver. The laser RF driver allows us to control the laser in such a way so that we are able to generate very high laser pulse energy in a short period of time, which can help when deep-engraving or cutting metal. By adjusting both the duty-cycle and the repetition rate of the laser, we can achieve very fine control over the amount of energy that is imparted onto a material. This is one of the key discoveries that allowed laser marking and engraving to become so useful, and so popular.
There was no keyboard, there was no mouse; just a bunch of switches and knobs labeled in a font iconic of the time.
The device to the right is one of the oldest computer interfaces for controlling a laser and galvo system. There was no keyboard, there was no mouse; just a bunch of switches and knobs labeled in a font iconic of the time, and of a particular movie the author is fond of. The computer was programmed via paper tape (“ticker tape”) on a system called Teletype, it pre-dates floppy, although the floppy was employed shortly thereafter. The computer was based on the 68000 processor, made by Motorola, and later adopted by Apple for use in the Macintosh and Apple Lisa computers. Except, our computer was not as sophisticated as a Macintosh, but for the time, it was powerful enough to perform the functions we needed it to for this project and it became the building block for future laser marking systems. In fact, still, in our Laser Marking Studio (LMS) software, we have all five versions of “wobble” (pictured on the front of the computer) in our software. A tip of the hat to history, and an indication of just how important that function is in laser marking and engraving.
And so here we are today, looking back at an icon, at our beginnings and the beginnings of an industry. Our systems have become more complex, but our software has become more user-friendly. We continue down the path of pioneering new laser technologies, applications, and automation, which sets us apart from the hundreds of other companies flooding the markets behind us. We remain a strong company because, with a combined experience of over 300-years among the staff at CLC in the laser industry, if you can think it, we can do it, and we probably already did.