Choosing the Best Controller for Your Laser Processing System

We often refer to the controller as the brain of a laser system. That’s because it ensures synchronization between the laser and scan head to move at an accurate position and speed. One of the most popular uses for laser systems is in laser material processing, which has expanded rapidly worldwide due to its extensive techniques, applications and marking materials. Laser processing systems have three components: a laser, galvanometer scan head and a controller with marking software. When choosing your laser processing system, the controller is an important piece of the solution, and making sure it fits specific application needs is essential. Let’s walk through what to look for when choosing the best controller for your laser processing requirements.


Plug-and-play laser adaptors

Look for a controller that carries plug-and-play laser adaptors for a seamless integration with your lasers.  Users will benefit from a controller with laser-specific adaptors compatible with any lasers resulting in reduced interfacing time and costs.


SoC (system-on-a-chip) control system

If your application is in modern factory environments with distributed automation, then you need a fully integrated dual system-on-a-chip (SoC) controller. In this scenario, a single host computer can supervise a factory of networked laser marking applications. Look for a controller that is completely embedded into a scanning system and does not require a nearby physical host computer for operation. This enables remote access, control and monitoring for tether-less operation in a distributed laser marking environment.


High command resolution

The ideal controller will deliver the highest command resolution for fast and precise performance. For example, Cambridge Technology’s ScanMaster controller offers 24bit— the highest command resolution in the industry that enables unmatched accuracy at very high speeds. This is an important feature for any application as it allows laser scanning jobs to be an almost-exact representation to the original pattern while also maintaining precision at the highest speeds.


Optimized features for high performance

Today’s advanced laser material processing require many complex features in controllers that deliver higher throughput and performance. Look for controllers that have precisely-timed laser controls to optimize tighter synchronization between scan heads and lasers. This helps reduce errors and delays to guarantee high job performance. Other features include process parameters optimization to deliver higher throughput, real-time scanning feedback controls to enable reliability, and high-command resolution to achieve high accuracy and repeatability.


To choose the right controller, you must first determine what features and requirements your application demands. Once you’ve figured out its specific requirements, the ideal controller for laser control and scanning should have features that can adapt to different demands, can adjust to varying lasers and carries optimized features to enhance performance.


Novanta offers a variety of controller and software options for each specific application and product performance. Learn more about our options here.