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Gi Li Steel Enhances Capabilities With Definition Plasma System

Gi Li Steel Enhances Capabilities with Definition Plasma System

In a search for a better solution to improve its production processes, Gi Li Steel found a cutting system that proves to be the answers to the company’s strict requirements. A case study by Hypertherm.

BODYTechnological advancement is changing the manufacturing industry, bringing along challenges that businesses need to overcome. Maximising productivity while improving cost efficiency is key for businesses seeking to thrive in today’s business environment. In fact, some companies take it one step further by looking into retaining its competitive edge for the long-term by looking into solutions that offers automation on top of productivity and profitability. One such company is Gi Li Steel, which prides itself on the conscious effort it takes to enhance its production capabilities and to serve its customers better.

Based in Sanchong City, Taiwan, Gi Li Steel was established in 1978 and has more than 40 years of experience in manufacturing parts for machinery and welding products. The company’s solid reputation in the steel processing industry is attributed to its core value, ‘Quality first, Credit first, Customer first’ and the way it is constantly looking to improve their products and services.

Finding the Perfect Solution to Elevate Product Quality

In the past, oxyfuel cutting technology and other plasma systems were used to cut metal sheets. Due to the limitations of these cutting processes, the production team had to carry out several follow-up procedures to inspect and refine the products in order to meet Gi Li Steel’s stringent quality requirements. This resulted in additional costs and time required for production.

True to the company’s core values, Gi Li Steel embarked on a search for a better solution to improve its production processes, enhance the quality of its products, and retain the trust of its customers. After an extensive search, Hypertherm’s XPR300 plasma cutting system proved to be the answer to the company’s requirements.

Chen Chien Yu, Factory Manager at Gi Li Steel, explained, “Once we had a better understanding of the functionalities of Hypertherm’s XPR300, we realised the XPR300 is the perfect solution to address Gi Li Steel’s current and future business needs. Not only will it help our company to improve the quality of our products, it will also provide us with the boost we need to overcome our competition.”

Featuring the latest X-Definition plasma technology which improves the cutting system’s ability to tackle high-precision applications, the XPR300 surpasses the expectations of modern plasma cutting systems to produce high-quality cuts in the most cost-efficient manner on a myriad of metal types and thicknesses. These advanced features of the XPR300 system addressed the company’s requirements of a cutting solution that could handle a variety of plate thickness at a dimensional tolerance of 1mm and angularity tolerance of 0.5mm. Additionally, the system boasts of the True Hole technology that provides Gi Li Steel with the ability to easily fabricate small round holes with good cross-section quality.

Reaping the Benefits of X-Definition Technology

With the new XPR300 plasma cutting system, the company can now automate production processes which translates to an increase in its capacity by almost twice and a 50 percent reduction in production time on various tasks.

The adoption of the XPR300 allowed Gi Li Steel to save on materials and consumables, as well as improve on cut quality and precision. In addition, it also allowed the company to undertake projects in new areas, such as construction and landscape engineering, further expanding its business portfolio.

The improved features offer augmented consumable life, and reduces production times and wastage in materials — allowing the company to achieve significant cost-savings. As such, Gi Li Steel was able to differentiate itself from its competitors while saving internal costs.

Mr. Chen concludes, “We look forward to satisfying our customers with more consistent and quality products. And we’ll definitely recommend the X-Definition plasma cutting systems to others looking for a cutting solution that provides improved cut quality, cut speed, and system run time.”

 

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Laser Cutting In Manufacturing Process

Laser Cutting In Manufacturing Process

Laser cutting is a fabrication process which employs a focused, high-powered laser beam to cut material into custom shapes and designs. This process is suitable for a wide range of materials, including metal, plastic, wood and glass. Article by Ahmad Alshidiq.

Manufacturers have sought to make the manufacturing process easier and more efficient. By verifying that a design can actually be manufactured early on in the development process, manufacturers can save time and money, and speed up time to market for new products while also ensure optimum productivity.

The development of technologies such as laser cutting have made manufacturing complex products easier. Laser cutters have simplified the process of manufacturing products simpler, rather than simplifying the products themselves, thus allowing for greater complexity in less time — and increased innovation.

L.A.S.E.R

Laser is the acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, which is the main participant in this process, is a beam of heavily intensified light. This beam of light is formed by a single wavelength or single colour.

The laser machines use amplification and stimulation technique to transform electric energy into high density beam of light. The stimulation process happens as the electrons are excited via an external source, mostly an electric arc or a flash lamp.

Focusing the light beam is not so easy. The laser has to go through a specialised lens or any type of curved surface. This focusing part of the laser happens inside the laser-cutting tip. The focusing is crucial to this cutting process because if the beam is not focused concisely, the shape will turn out different.

Laser cutters can be customised to cut nearly any material of any thickness to exact specifications accurately and fast. It is a cleaner process, requires little or no secondary cleanup, can be easily adjusted to meet the changing needs of the product.

The process works by having a focused and precise laser beam run through the material that users are looking to cut, delivering an accurate and smooth finish. Initially, the beam pierces the material with a hole at the edge, and then the beam is continued along from there. The laser melts the material away that it is run over. This means that it can easily cut light materials up to tougher metals and gemstones.

Either a pulsed beam or a continuous wave beam can be used, with the former being delivered in short bursts while the latter works continuously. Users can control the beam intensity, length and heat output depending on the material you are working with, and can also user a mirror or special lens to further focus the laser beam. Laser cutting is a highly accurate process, thanks to high level of control offered; slits with a width as small as 0.1mm can be achieved.

There are three main types of laser cutting: C02, crystal and, more common, fibre laser cutting.

Fibre laser cutting machines have emerged as the technology of choice for sheet metal cutting in the metal fabricating industry. They are able to deliver unrivalled productivity, precision, and cost-effective operation when compared with the cutting technologies that came before them.

Techniques In Cutting Process

There are also several techniques involved with the laser cutting process, according to SPI Laser:

Laser cutting – This is the process of cutting a shape to create smaller sizes, pieces, or more complex shapes.

Laser engraving – The process of removing a layer of a material to leave an engraving below. This is often used for etching barcodes onto items.

Laser marking – Similar to engraving in that a mark is made but the difference being that the mark is only surface level, while an engraving from laser engraving has much more depth.

Laser drilling – Drilling is creating dents or thru-holes on or in the surface of a material.

Laser cutting allows more flexibility in the manufacturing process. A laser operates with a heat intensity, making it possible to cleanly and accurately cut virtually any material, from the strongest alloy all the way down to the thinnest polymers.

Lasers aren’t bound by geometry, so parts do not have to conform to the capabilities of the laser cutter. Because the laser itself never actually touches the part being cut, materials can be oriented in any fashion, which allows them to be cut in any shape or form. In many cases, the precision cuts made by the lasers require little to no post-cut processing, which also speeds up the manufacturing process.

There are, however, some drawbacks, as laser cutting uses more power than other types of cutters and does require more training to do properly, as poorly adjusted lasers can burn materials or fail to cut them cleanly. And while laser cutting does typically cost more than other types of processes, such as wet cutting, the benefits often far outweigh those costs.

Laser Leads the Way

The laser continues to solve more and more manufacturing problems, and process variables such as beam diameter and manipulation continue to have a meaningful impact. It’s no mystery why manufacturers constantly choose laser cutting for their prototype and their final production over any other traditional metal engraving process. With its precise cutting, smooth edge, cost and energy efficiency as well as many other profitable advantages, it seems like the use of laser cutting in different sectors and industries is not likely to decrease in next decade or so. And it is indeed a wise decision to shift from traditional expensive metal cutting technologies to this efficient process of shaping ideas. Advancements in laser technology are sure to be a key component of success in the era of Industrie 4.0.

 

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Femtosecond Lasers For Unmatched Micromachining

Femtosecond Lasers for Unmatched Micromachining

Klaus Kleine and Michael LaHa of Coherent Inc review a new type of cutting laser, femtosecond and the ultra-short pulse (USP) industrial laser, which can cut feature sizes of tens of microns, with virtually no heat affected zone.

There is an increasing need to produce high precision, miniaturised components across several industries such as medical devices, automotive manufacturing and microelectronics. In many cases, traditional cutting methods cannot deliver the required combination of feature resolution and cut quality for these applications. Even lasers, which have historically offered the highest level of cutting precision, sometimes produce an unacceptably large heat affected zone (HAZ), that is, a region where melting or microcracking in surrounding material degrades part quality and/or performance. This article explores a new type of cutting laser, the ultra-short pulse (USP) industrial laser, which can cut feature sizes of tens of microns, with virtually no HAZ, and presents some specific examples of the use of this technology in medical device manufacturing.

Figure 1: Laser micromachining; in drilling, cutting and texturing applications, the use of lasers with shorter pulse widths avoids some of the limitations associated with longer pulse widths, including thermal effects and recast debris and surface micro-cracking.

USP Laser Advantages

Most precision micromachining lasers have pulse durations of 40 to 60 nanoseconds (10-9 seconds).  But, when cut quality is of primary importance, such as for producing very smooth HAZ-free edges, or when processing thin or delicate substrates, these lasers are not always optimum.

In these cases, even shorter pulse durations, in the picosecond (10-12 seconds) realm, can offer superior results.  This is because with this very short pulse duration, this is an athermal process which doesn’t cause unwanted heat to spread into surrounding material and cause a HAZ. And, the fact that the ejected material consists of very small particles (eg: as atoms) means that picosecond laser pulses do not produce recast, therefore leaving clean, smooth surfaces.

USP lasers are typically characterized by much lower pulse energies than nanosecond lasers, but with very high pulse repetition rates – usually in the 1 to 50 MHz range. So, each pulse removes a minute amount of material with minimal thermal damage, enabling unmatched depth control. Yet, the high pulse repetition rate delivers sufficient overall material removal speeds for many tasks.

Figure 2: A nitnol stent, cut with the Coherent Monaco femtosecond laser, shown at two different magnifications.  Notice the precision, edge quality and clean smooth surfaces in each case.

Femtosecond Lasers

Recently, interest has grown in using lasers with even shorter pulsewidths, specifically in the femtosecond (10-15 seconds) domain. In medical device manufacturing in particular, three factors have driven this trend. The first is the growing need for increased miniaturization, superior edge quality and surface smoothness. The extremely short pulse duration of femtosecond lasers further increases the advantages of athermal processing described previously. This is particularly valuable when processing thin films and delicate materials where no HAZ can be tolerated.

A second reason is the increasing use of mixed and layered materials, eg: bioabsorbable plastics on metal, or polyimide on glass. Femtosecond lasers produce very high peak pulse powers, which, in turn, drive non-linear (multiphoton) absorption in the material. Unlike traditional (linear) absorption, this is less dependent upon wavelength; the femtosecond laser can process virtually any material, even if it is transparent, such as glass. This allows coated and laminated substrates to be processed in a single step, enabling streamlined and lower cost fabrication in many cases.

Finally, femtosecond lasers are becoming increasingly attractive to industrial users because of recent improvements in their performance, lifetime, reliability and cost of ownership characteristics. Originally, femtosecond lasers were used exclusively for scientific applications. But, in the last few years, femtosecond laser manufacturers like Coherent have implemented a new laser material, ytterbium-doped fibre, which is scalable to much higher power. And because the laser material is in the form of a fibre, this new generation of industrial femtosecond lasers has simpler internal design and construction, leading to lower costs and significantly increased reliability.

For example, the Monaco series from Coherent provides up to 60W of processing power in a compact (667 mm x 360 mm x 181 mm) sealed package, which, given its lower capital cost and increased reliability, makes femtosecond laser processing economically competitive for a host of enabling applications in a variety of industries.  Moreover, these capabilities these lasers bring are available at several levels of integration. Options include standalone lasers, laser sub-systems (light “engines”) with scanning/focusing optics, complete machines with integrated part handling, and even complete solutions with custom software pre-optimized for a specified set of results for particular applications.

Figure 3: Three examples of stainless steel surface texturing produced with the Coherent Monaco femtosecond laser.

Cutting Precision Medical Devices

Many medical devices are formed from tubular blanks; common tasks are to make cylindrical cuts as well as produce intricate patterns for cardiovascular and peripheral stents. Testing has shown that femtosecond laser cutting delivers superior feature consistency and residual strength. For this application, the laser is typically integrated in a workstation in which the blank is mounted to a moving stage with 4-axes of motion, (three translation and one rotation). The use of a femtosecond laser allows for kerf cutting of tube stock or flat stock material with micrometre-scale precision and tolerances. Processing is sometimes accompanied by high-pressure co-axial assist gas to help remove vaporised ablation debris when cutting thicker-walled materials.

For surface texturing of contoured materials, such as catheter balloons, or surface ablation of flat stock materials such as stainless steel, another approach is used. Here, a 2D scanner workstation is usually the optimum solution, employing a high-speed 2-axis galvanometer scanner to cover a 20cm radius. The use of a femtosecond laser enables highly precise results with sub-micrometre depth control.

Yet another approach has been optimized to perform tasks such as precision hole drilling in irrigated ablation tip catheters with controlled wall taper, precision placement of slots and grooves, or to create complex shapes in tubes or flat stock material. In this case, the workstation contains a 5-axis trepanning scan head with co-axial assist gas along with a 5-axis motion control system. Again the femtosecond laser provides sub-micrometre dimensional precision and clean surfaces with typically no need for post-processing.

Conclusion

Many industries face a challenge to produce ever smaller and more precise components, while simultaneously reducing cost. Ultra-short pulse laser micromachining supports this trend in several ways, since it naturally delivers small features without damaging, heating, cracking or otherwise affecting the bulk material, while its minimisation of debris and recast material almost completely eliminates the cost of post-processing cleaning.

 

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The Carefree Package For The Entry Into Bending

The Carefree Package For The Entry Into Bending

Bystronic is advancing into a new customer segment. The Xpress offers concentrated bending technology at an attractive price-level. Thanks to the newly developed press brake, even users without prior experience achieve professional results.

For many companies, a high-quality press brake is prohibitively expensive. Hence, small workshops and beginners often revert to second-hand machines or low-budget models. But the low purchase price is often offset by poor quality. Bystronic’s new entry-level model, on the other hand, is a much more sustainable investment. With its attractive price-performance ratio, the Xpress sets a new quality benchmark in the lower price segment.

With the Xpress, Bystronic’s innovative bending technology is now accessible to a new segment of customers. Small job shops, family businesses, and medium-sized enterprises no longer have to accept compromises in terms of quality. Entry-level users can rely on high-quality equipment. And for those companies whose core competencies previously did not include bending, the Xpress allows parts to be manufactured in-house instead of having to be subcontracted at high cost.


Simple operation, high precision

The intuitive operation of the Xpress enables a quick entry into bending technology. All the process steps on a single screen – this is the idea behind the ByVision Bending software. The 22-inch touch screen enables users to design parts with just a few swipes of the finger. The software provides valuable support for the programming of bending sequences. ByVision Bending determines the suitable tools and the ideal bending process for every material thickness and bending angle.

Precision is the most important performance benchmark of a press brake. Hence, the ByMotion drive control, a Bystronic in-house development, ensures that the upper beam and backgauges of the Xpress are accelerated with high precision. The press force required at any given time is distributed with high precision over the entire bending length, both when coining and when air bending. This ensures bending results with a high degree of repetition accuracy.

Modular design offers high degree of flexibility

The closed O-frame design of the Xpress guarantees high machine rigidity and offers sufficient space for applications along the entire bending length. In addition, the modular design ensures a high degree of flexibility. Different tool clamping and backgauge systems allow individual customization to adapt to the production environment. Compatibility with all other Bystronic bending systems makes it easy to expand production.

This makes the Xpress predestined for small businesses that want to grow. The versatile bending technology lays the foundation for a high quality standard upon which a successful business can be built. Bystronic’s comprehensive know-how and customer-oriented services make the Xpress a carefree package for future bending experts.

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