- Products & Systems
Laser inscription is a rapidly growing field and an important component of many industrial production processes. In order to achieve the most precise results, repeatably precise motion control systems are essential. These systems provide the exact positioning accuracy and speed needed to keep up with the demands of high-volume and high-precision laser inscription applications. However, not all motion control systems are created equal.
Having recognized that most laser marking systems are restricted to operating in two-dimensions, and can therefore only scan on the and x and y axes (and in addition also lack the ability to process materials that have a high hardness of low ignition point) ALIO created a range of multi-dimensional motion control systems ideal for demanding inscription applications.
Bill Hennessey, President of ALIO Industries says, “There are several drawbacks to using a laser inscription motion control system that only works in two dimensions. First, the system is limited in the types of objects it can engrave or cut. Basically, it can only add inscriptions to surfaces facing the marking system, so objects with complex shapes or raised surfaces cannot be engraved with the precision and therefore the quality needed by many customers. Second, 2D systems are also limited in the height of features they can engrave or cut. In addition, 2D systems are also limited in the accuracy of the engraving, as the laser beam is not always able to follow the contours of an object accurately, so the inscription may not be precise.”
A particular and important application is the inscription of diamonds. Without causing any damage, a micro-laser beam is used to etch a microscopic inscription on the girdle of diamonds. The often complex shapes of diamonds mean that 2D inscription machines struggle to provide neat engravings. The need for a 3D or 3D+ solution that is at the same time speedy, precise and repeatable is obvious. Such a solution would also after initial capital outlay save money by reducing the potential for scrap and through improved inscription quality reduce the need for costly post-processing.
There are many reasons why 3D and 3D+ motion control systems are superior for laser inscription applications. For one, they allow for more precise and accurate laser beam positioning, using as they do a three-dimensional axes of movement, which means that the laser beam can be positioned more precisely on the surface of the material being inscribed.
Another reason is that they offer a greater degree of flexibility in terms of the size and shape of the inscribed area, there being no limitations, as the laser beam can be moved freely in three-dimensional space. This allows for much larger and more complex inscribed shapes and designs.
Finally, they also offer a higher degree of speed and efficiency in terms of inscription. With a high quality 3D or 3D+ motion control system the motion profile is optimized promoting straight parallel movements, and ‘real’ corners rather than curves.
Hennessey concludes, “To overcome the limitations of traditional 2D inscription machines, ALIO has developed compact x, y, z motion control systems, gimbal systems with up to 5 axis, and Hybrid Hexapods® that exhibit smooth travel, high stiffness, and low dither which all enhance the clarity and versatility of the inscription. Our compact x,y,z motion control systems are designed to provide high performance and precise positioning capabilities in a small footprint. Gimbals and Hybrid Hexapods® are meant to maximize flexibility, and improve quality on complex forms and hidden spots. These systems utilize precision motors for each axis of travel, providing high thrust force and low inertia for rapid acceleration and deceleration. Integrated position feedback sensors ensure precise positioning and repeatability, while programmable motion controllers allow for custom movement profiles to be created. They are ideally suited to laser inscription applications where fast and precise motion control is required in a limited space.”
NANO Z® patented Z-lift air bearing stages overcome the legacy design issues associated with z-wedges and other vertical stages. They use a novel combination of air-bearings plus two voice coil motors in a compact footprint with up to 50mm travel.
Using air bearings means negligible friction which enables unparalleled accuracy and repeatability down to low double-digit nanometers. Variable counterbalancing easily handles heavy weights like wafer chucks, while still achieving nano-level precision over the full travel range.
The Nano Z® design places vertical force in line with the payload, and this makes it possible to place the stage directly below the payload instead of beside it, avoiding inevitable cantilever inaccuracies and nearly eliminating pitch, yaw and roll.
Dimensions and specification can be found in following data sheet:
ALIO’s GeoSymmetric™ Vertical Positioning Stages use voice coil or linear direct drives, high precision crossed roller bearings, and various counterbalance options within a unique and innovative design concept.
Unique geometric shapes provide mounting surfaces on multiple faces of the stage for flexible installation options. Being able to mount the payload directly to the face or top surface of the stage helps to eliminate weakness and resonant frequency issues associated with additional brackets.
The “Symmetric” part of the family’s name originates from the arrangement of the components used. The counterbalance, motor, bearings, and encoder are all placed on an approximate centerline of the stage, i.e. they are integrated in a way that their masses are symmetrically distributed over the stage.
This series of stages has been built for precision with application dependent counterbalances, and has been structurally designed to exceed application performance demands (with bidirectional repeatability down to +/-45nm, travels from 6 to 70mm, and load capacities of up to 30kg). Being 4x to 10x more precise than Z-wedge stages makes ALIO’s GeoSymmetric™ Vertical Positioning Stages great for any application within the semiconductor industry, microscopes for life and health science, or numerous metrology applications.
Explore our many options with a closer look at the relevant data sheets:
Pneumatic Counterbalanced Z: AI-(MOTOR)-(TRAVEL)00-(FORCE)-Z-CB
High-Force Pneumatic Counterbalanced Z: AI-(MOTOR)-(TRAVEL)00-(FORCE)N-Z-CB
Magnetic Spring Counterbalanced Z, Voice Coil: AI-(MOTOR)-(TRAVEL)00-(PAYLOAD)-Z-MCB-(ORIENTATION)
Mini Z with user-swappable Spring Counterbalanced Z: AI-(MOTOR)-(TRAVEL)00-Z-SCB
ALIO’s family of linear motor driven, vertical Z-lift stages are characterized by their low profile and extremely long travel ranges. Using high precision crossed roller bearings and linear encoders, the stages are equipped with magnetic spring counterbalances or a frictionless air bearing pneumatic cylinder. Similar to the GeoSymmetric series of stages, these long travel Z stages have counterbalance, motor, bearings, and encoder all placed on an approximate centerline of the stage. Payloads may be mounted directly to the face of the stage.
The Z-MCB versions with magnetic spring counterbalances allow travel between 25 and 170mm, while the Z-ABCB — with its frictionless air bearing pneumatic cylinder counterbalance — can carry payloads of up to 25kg over 200mm or more.
Magnetic Spring Counterbalanced Z, Linear Drive; AI-LM-(TRAVEL)00-Z-MCB-(MAX PAYLOAD)
Extra Long Travel Z: AI-LM-(TRAVEL)00-(PAYLOAD)-Z-MCB-BASE
A broad field of applications from industrial automation to large measurement or metrology tools demand enormous lift capabilities while still achieving nanometer precision. For such applications, ALIO offers vertical Z stages with precision ball screws driven by a frameless torque motor that is equipped with pneumatic release spring engage brakes that lift 20kg without additional counterbalance. For even higher loads, this series offers the so-called “pneumatic boost” option which uses a frictionless pneumatic counterbalance to boost the payload capability to 50kg.
Even with such high loads, these stages can achieve +/- 100 nm bi-directional repeatability over ranges of up to 50mm. This makes it the ideal stage for applications requiring high loads and long travel ranges without compromising precision.
More information on precision, accuracy and motion profile specifications:
When looking at most imaging applications, optimal focus of the image can only be achieved if the distance between the sample and the optics is adjustable. Typically, a Z-axis focusing stage would be used for such applications with either the sample or the optics being moved along the optical axis. The specifics of the application, the optics, and the sample will ultimately determine the range of motion required, with some examples where additional focus travel is needed being:
• For thick or non-planar samples such as tissue samples or cultured cells
• For non-parfocal objectives each of which have a different focus spacing
• Where there are multiple sample types such as microscope slides or microtiter plates
• When it is necessary to retract the optics during a load/unload operation
Some other advanced microscopy applications require that a series of images are acquired, each separated by a small increment along the Z-axis, such advanced focus control being needed to create 3D sample images.
For all such exacting applications, ALIO’s direct drive focus stage technology is up to the challenge:
Z Focusing Stage: AI-VC-600-SCB-ATRAK
ALIO Industries’ linear X stages are the ideal choice for precision applications, as they are commonly used in the precision industry due to their reliability and performance. The family of stages offers a wide range of travel options from 30mm to 300mm by utilizing two types of linear direct drives: the “LM” and the “CM” series.
The “LM” series provides greater force, higher acceleration, greater speed, and supports payloads of up to 50kg, while the “CM” series offers a low-profile design for tools and applications with space constraints, without compromising precision. ALIO’s linear motion systems and linear X stages are the perfect choice for applications that require precision and reliability.
For more information please download and analyze the following datasheets:
ALIO Industries offers enclosed, monolithic XY stages that are suitable for ultra-precise applications. These stages feature direct linear drives and high-precision crossed roller bearings built into a compact 3-plate system. With nanometer straightness and flatness, as well as optimized orthogonality, the point precision is True Nano®. Standard travel ranges are from 30mm up to 400mm, and stages can be built for high vacuum or clean room applications if needed.
The bi-directional repeatability of these stages is only +/- 30nm, making them suitable for scanning applications requiring a smooth, continuous movement, or for fast step and settle processes when high output is required. The enclosed, monolithic XY stages are available in two series – the standard LM-series and the low-profile CM-series.
For more information, download the datasheets available on our website.
To download datasheets, look for:
Enclosed Monolithic XY: AI-LM-(TRAVEL)00-XY
ALIO Industries produces open-centered, monolithic XY stages with large apertures for accessibility from all sides. These stages use powerful direct linear drives and high-precision crossed roller bearings in a 3-plate system to achieve outstanding precision. With a bi-directional repeatability of just +/- 50nm, superior straightness and flatness, and optimized orthogonality, ALIO’s open-centered XY stages offer Nano Precision® with travel ranges of 30mm to 400mm. The stages are perfect for scanning applications requiring smooth, continuous movement and fast step and settle processes, and increase throughput substantially. They can be built for high vacuum or clean room applications. ALIO’s open-centered XY stages are available in standard LM-series or the more compact CM-Series. Download datasheets on our website.
Open-Centered Monolithic XY: AI-LM-(TRAVEL)00-(THRU)E-XY
Low-profile Open-Centered Monolithic XY: AI-CM-(TRAVEL)00E-(THRU)-XY
If you need a low-profile solution to avoid space constraints, require different travels in X and Y, and can’t compromise on performance and precision, there are hardly any off-the-shelf products on the market. ALIO’s asymmetrical, monolithic XY stages are unique in the market and can help solve this complex combination of motion requirements.
With linear direct drives, ultra-precise crossed roller bearings, and our 3-plate system, we guarantee highly precise and powerful motion, as well as perfect orthogonality of the X and Y axes in respect to each other.
“Asymmetrical” in this design concept refers to the two different travel ranges of these two stages that are usually achieved by mounting different linear X stages on top of each other.
For further information, contact us or download the following specification sheets:
Asymmetrical, Monolithic XY: AI-LM-(TRAVEL_X)x(TRAVEL_Y)-XY
Asymmetrical, Monolithic XY: AI-SLM-(TRAVEL_X)x(TRAVEL_Y)-XY
ALIO’s precision ball-screw driven X stages are perfect for applications that require precision despite electrical noise. These stages are driven by a torque motor that moves a precision ball screw with an anti-backlash nut, and they can be equipped with pneumatic or electric solenoid brakes if necessary.
Thanks to ALIO’s unique design and manufacturing principles, these stages achieve a bi-directional repeatability of only +/- 100nm, with straightness and flatness well below 5µm (and on request even 1µm can be maintained).
Off-the-shelf versions are available for travels of 30mm, 100mm, 150mm, and 200mm, and can be realized for ambient, high vacuum, and clean room conditions.
For more information on these stages, please refer to the following datasheet:
Linear X with Precision Ball Screw:_AI-VBS-(TRAVEL)00-(BRAKE OPTION)
ALIO has introduced the Micron 2 (µII) motion systems family to compete in the micron-level motion control market. These systems are designed to offer low-cost, mid-precision, reliable, and long-travel stages. As with all ALIO’s products, the Micron 2 (µII) systems are designed with the company’s “quality first” standards, ensuring long-term reliable operation.
The Micron 2 (µII) recirculating ball rail bearing stages come in standard sizes of 100mm up to 2 meters, making them suitable for a wide variety of applications. This family of motion systems is robust and powerful, designed for use either as a stand-alone unit or as a top axis of an integrated solution.
For more details, visit the dedicated Micron 2 (µII) motion systems page.