Original Date: 07/21/2003
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Laser Marking of Plates
Electric Boat Corporation, Quonset Point Facility recently developed an integrated process that downloads part assembly interface information from the CATIA computer model database, and laser marks plates with precise location lines for fitting pieces together, marking part numbers and interfacing part numbers, and forming and processing information.
The primary material used in submarine construction are metallic plates that are cut, bent, or formed into shapes and welded together into complex assemblies. Electric Boat Corporation, Quonset Point Facility (EBQP) recently developed an integrated process that downloads part assembly interface information from the CATIA computer model database and laser marks plates up to 50' long and 15' wide with this information. The EBQP-developed laser etching system is unique in the world and designed to the company’s specific Navy requirements. Depth and lack of material damage were validated by a significant design-of-experiments approach. EBQP now laser scribes precise location lines for fitting the pieces together, marking part numbers and interfacing part numbers, forming and processing information, and delineating maximum weld boundaries for adjoined pieces. Weld information is drawn from an automatic weld process system, and the information needed for assembly by the shipfitter is etched on both sides of any plate, if required. The marking of all layout and reference lines is accurate within a ± 1/32 of an inch. The successful implementation of this complex process allowed EBQP to eliminate a manual layout, improve accuracy, minimize weld deposition, and reduce or eliminate the number of two-dimensional, paper assembly drawings required to assemble the part.
The process provides for a computer-aided, automatic marking of steel plates before they are cut from raw stock. Combining this with the detailed design database, the advanced plate processing system and the Statistical Process Control (SPC) of plates, greatly reduces processing time and labor while increasing accuracy and eliminating excess work on the shipfitter later in the process. The expensive, manual marking and layout operations currently accomplished during structural fabrication/assembly are being minimized or eliminated. Also, mechanics are not spending significant time reviewing and interpreting drawings. Planning efforts are streamlined by monitoring required work packages and providing unified kits in the proper sequence. This automated, streamlined process provides a product that is more affordable to build and has significant reductions in manufacturing lead times. Benefits of this process, as integrated with the advanced plate processing system, the computer model database, and the SPC process, include an overall reduction of 47% in per-part labor hours and 26% reduction in structural fabrication labor hours downstream.
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