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Trumpf Adds RFID to Its Laser Cutting Machines

To make it easier to know if a machine's lens is being properly used and maintained, the company is embedding an RFID tag in its lenses, as well as installing a reader in its cutting heads.
By Claire Swedberg

Each time a user cleans the lens, he or she would press a prompt on the machine's display. That action would then trigger the cleaning event data to be written to the lens' RFID chip as well.

If a lens is installed properly in a cutting head, its tag comes within close contact of the reader, which captures the chip's ID number and displays the lens' status on the machine's screen. If the lens is mounted incorrectly (backwards, for instance), this means the tag is not within range of the reader, prompting the software to display an alert that either the wrong lens has been installed or the lens has been installed incorrectly.

Trumpf's Jürgen-Michael Weick
If a user installs a lens without an RFID tag built into it, he or she must indicate that fact in the software while completing the installation.

The technology makes it easier for companies to track lens usage, and that information can then be compared against the condition of a particular lens. Without the data collected by the RFID system, Weick says, "When I ask people 'How long have you used the lens?,' they often can't answer that question." With the RFID technology, he notes, the question can be answered simply by pressing a prompt on the machine's display.

According to Weick, deployments of the tagged lenses are still in their earliest stages. But to date, he says, "Customers are very satisfied with the system."

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