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Hexagon Enhances Its Smart Manufacturing Solutions Portfolio With Acquisition Of D.P. Technology Corp

Hexagon Enhances Its Smart Manufacturing Solutions Portfolio With Acquisition Of D.P. Technology Corp

Hexagon AB, a global leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions, has announced the signing of an agreement to acquire D.P. Technology Corp. (“D.P. Technology”), a leading developer and supplier of computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) technology. 

The ESPRIT CAM System, its flagship solution, is the smart manufacturing solution for any machining application. Supporting any class of CNC machine via a common interface and workflow, it provides high-performance CNC machine programming, optimisation, and simulation for a broad range of precision manufacturing applications.

Well known for its machine-optimised, edit-free G-code (toolpath), ESPRIT leverages a digital twin simulation platform to model the finished part, tools, and CNC machine. AI-based algorithms eliminate manual data input and provide machine operators with greater assurance of what will happen on the shop floor. The result – simplified programming, increased tool life and utilisation, reduced cycle times and improved productivity. 

“D.P. Technology is an innovator with a strong focus on building smarter, data-driven manufacturing solutions. When combined with our production software portfolio, it cements our market-leading position in CAM, particularly around CNC manufacturing processes, and accelerates the development of our Smart Manufacturing portfolio,” says Hexagon President and CEO Ola Rollén. 

“Additionally, the D.P. Technology team has built excellent working relationships with leading machine tool providers and other manufacturing technology experts, which will prove invaluable in our open and interoperable manufacturing ecosystem approach.” 

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ANCA ToolDraft –The Ultimate Drafting Package For Cutting Tools

ANCA ToolDraft –The Ultimate Drafting Package For Cutting Tools

Like all manufactured parts, cutting tools require technical drawings to make a design a reality. Best practice for cutting tool manufacturers emphasises the importance of a tool drawing that is detailed, clear and precise. Tool drawings are essential for many reasons – besides serving as a reference for operators to produce tools accurately and consistently, they also provide a record of the tool and enable revision control. Drawings are also predominantly used when recommending designs to customers for quoting purposes.

ANCA CNC Machines considered all the above when creating ToolDraft, which has allowed cutting tool manufacturers to achieve outstanding results. As a dedicated software package for producing 2D cutting tool drawings, ToolDraft helps users to reduce hours of workflow into a few clicks. Once a tool is created using ToolRoom (version 2016 or later) or CIM3D (version 8.1 or later), it can be sent to ToolDraft in a matter of seconds, with a click of the icon. Cutting tool manufacturers who have a backlog of tools not yet drawn will benefit greatly from ToolDraft and its ability to produce detailed 2D cutting tool drawings in minutes rather than hours.

Simon Richardson, ANCA Product Manager, said, “ToolDraft is quick, easy to use and saves time as it allows complex geometries that are difficult to draw to be simply created and dimensioned. As the software is specifically designed for cutting tools, it offers features that 2D CAD software may not have. Time saved using ToolDraft will provide a quick return on investment for any company looking to find efficiency in their production.”

ToolDraft follows Geometric Dimension and Tolerancing (GD&T) and ISO standards. Included in the software is a library of drafting symbols, feature control frames and annotations for GD&T purposes. Dimensions can be applied to a range of various tool views and customised, if required. Leader lines with text can be placed on to a drawing to describe unique features and information. In cases when a small section of geometry needs to be highlighted, multiple detailed tool section views can be added to the drawing. ToolDraft also has the capability to add cross section views chosen by the user anywhere along the axial position of the tool.

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One Measuring Software For All Applications

One Measuring Software for All Applications

Measurement service provider Lometec upgraded the measuring software for its tactile Wenzel coordinate measuring machines from Metrosoft CM to WM | Quartis. CEO Jörg Werkmeister and Technical Director Marc Lange report on their practical experience using the example of a dimensional inspection of a turbine blade testing device.

The Metrosoft QUARTIS workspace. The inner ring of the turbine blade testing device is seen on the LH 108 coordinate measuring machine. (Source: Lometec)

Lometec GmbH & Co. KG is an accredited metrology lab according to DIN EN ISO / IEC 17025: 2005. The company provides a fully air-conditioned 220-square-meter measurement room according to VDI / VDE 2627 Bl.1 with state-of-the-art optical and tactile measuring machines. Lometec’s customers are mainly from the automotive and aerospace industry, medical technology, and mechanical engineering.

 

Measuring of the CNC Manufactured Rings of a Turbine Blade Testing Device

All tactile measurement systems at Lometec are exclusively powerful coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) from Wenzel Group.

“The Wenzel CMMs offer a holistic concept of high-quality engineering, intelligent software and accessory options,” says Jörg Werkmeister, Chief Executive Officer of Lometec. He is very satisfied with the decision to upgrade from Metrosoft CM to WM | Quartis.

Lometec was faced with a very sophisticated measurement task. A CNC manufactured inner and outer rings of a turbine blade testing device needed to be checked for dimensional accuracy for a customer. It was a very time-critical measurement task and the metrologists from Lometec used two LH 108 Wenzel coordinate measuring machines in parallel.

Clearly Designed Workspace for More Efficiency in Daily Use

Technical Director Marc Lange explains, “Due to the clearly designed workspace WM | Quartis works more effectively than was possible with Metrosoft CM.”

In the WM | Quartis user interface, the traditional menus and toolbars have been replaced by the Ribbon—a device that presents commands organized into a set of tabs.

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Keeping The Heart Of Your CNC Machine Going

Keeping the Heart Of Your CNC Machine Going

Here are a few things to look out for when choosing the right spindle repair service centre. Article by DKSH.

Keeping the Heart of Your CNC Machine Going

Spindle quality check.

Spindle is the heart of every CNC machine, and any damage or fault in the spindle can decrease productivity tremendously. Therefore, it is essential to get regular preventive diagnoses to extend the  lifespan of your spindle and prevent downtimes.

However, in the unfortunate event when spindle repair is necessary, what should you do? Repairing spindles of various machining centres can be complex and demanding, hence, it is critical to find a trusted spindle repair centre. With different options in the market, how do you determine which spindle repair facility is right for you? 

Here are a few things to look out for when choosing the right spindle repair service centre. 

Short Lead Time to Repair

When the spindle is down, production and profitability are affected. Minimise downtime by sending your spindle to a 24/7 spindle emergency service provider, and your spindle will be running in one to three days. If you have a spare spindle and can afford the wait, you can consider the standard repair service. Most spindle centres require four weeks’ worth of long wait, so look out for facilities that only require two weeks to restore your spindle to its full potential.

Availability of Genuine Bearing and Spare Parts

With a wide range of precision bearings and spare parts easily accessible, it is crucial to use genuine and correct parts for the spindle. If the spare parts used are not the same, your spindle is bound to fail in no time. Find a trustworthy spindle repair facility that provides genuine parts, which are readily available, so that waiting time can be reduced.

Spindle Testing and Run Off

The centre should be capable of testing your spindles irrespective of any specifications. In today’s advanced spindle technology, testing of spindles, from belt driven spindles to inbuilt motorised spindles, should be easily accessible. Testing of both synchronous and asynchronous types in such facilities are an added advantage. With this facility, there is no need to send the spindles back to the machine tools builders for testing and repair. Besides saving on delivery cost, downtime will also be minimised as the spindle repair centre will be able perform the equivalent repair service after running the relevant tests.

Onsite Condition Monitoring and Field Balancing

Spindle field balancing not only increase the lifespan of the spindle, it also increases tooling life and accuracy while reducing noise. Look out for facilities that can conduct onsite condition monitoring and field balancing. This helps to save cost and time as the engineers will be able to check the condition of the spindle onsite and make relevant adjustment instead of dismantling the spindle and bringing back to the repair site for adjustment and repair. Onsite condition monitoring is essential as it reduces downtime and cost. 

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Are Cheaper CNC Machine Tools More Cost Effective?

Are Cheaper CNC Machine Tools More Cost Effective?

When buying your CNC machine tool, what factors come into consideration? Cost? Quality? Design? Functionality? Find out the key considerations in choosing your CNC Machine in this article by Sue Neo, Hwacheon Asia Pacific.

What is the cheapest CNC machine tool which you can buy? Can you save money for your factory using affordable low-budget CNC lathes and milling machines? Or is it better in the long run to buy a premium quality CNC machine tool at a higher initial price?

There are two schools of thought here.

The first considers spending less on a machine tool to be cost-effective in reducing your overall investment and production costs. After all, these machines do cost quite a significant sum – any initial savings will help to improve overall cost effectiveness and efficiency.

The second, however, looks at the lifetime cost and better overall performance of the CNC machine tool. While cheaper machines may yield short-term savings, such machines may have higher long-term maintenance, parts replacement and other costs. They may also have limited functions, capabilities, and performance relative to premium models.

To answer this question well, let us first look at the countries of origin for CNC machine tools.

Manufacturing in Low Labour Cost Countries

Traditionally, countries with low labour costs tend to attract manufacturers of mainly mass-produced products, cheap components, or items.

While this is still true today, the rapid rise of technology has allowed high-end electronics and other consumer goods to be produced in these countries. Examples of such products include smartphones, tablets, smart televisions, fridges, automobiles, laptops, sport shoes, etc.

To keep themselves competitive, factory lines in low cost countries tend to use low cost equipment that are easier to operate. These cheaper machine tools have fewer functions and requires more customising effort on the part of the operator.

Often, machine operators in such countries tend to have lower education – their jobs are simply to load or unload parts and materials. It is also common for such firms to station one operator with one machine (after all, salaries are low and manpower is easily available).

Should crashes or incidents happen during the machining process, most likely the machine will stop. A factory supervisor will then come in to intervene. These may include tool breakages, power supply cut-off, insufficient air-supply, to the lack of raw material.

Manufacturing Norms in Industrialized Countries

Comparatively speaking, an industrialized “first-world” country tend to have higher labour, land, utility and other costs – even if they manufacture the same product, part or item as the low-cost country.

To maximise worker productivity, the CNC machine tools that you find at industrialized countries tend to be of higher grade.

Optimized for automation, they are designed for unmanned operation runs – allowing a single operator to handle multiple machines, change tools where needed, or re-set machines independently.

In such a production environment, more spindles are working at any one time. Beyond allowing for one-man operations, such machines may also have automation features such as self-loading/unloading systems, robots, tool changers, and smart software.

Due to the sophistication of these smarter multi-tasked machines, manufacturers can hire fewer operators – highly qualified specialist engineers who can handle the equipment efficiently and cost effectively, managing production runs on a 24 by 7 basis.

 

Key Considerations: Low-Cost vs High Quality CNC Machine Tools

Drilling down more deeply into the issue, the term “you get what you pay for” is highly relevant in the machine tool business.

For factory owners, saving thousands (or 10s of thousands of dollars) to purchase the cheapest CNC machine tool out there may actually be more expensive in the long-run. This is due to several reasons.

#1 Comparing Spindle Power, Lubrication, and Chilling Units

Low cost machines are often fitted with a less powerful spindle (e.g. 11-18 Kw motor) compared to high quality machines (e.g. a 37Kw motor). Using cheaper smaller bearings, these poorer performing spindles are usually grease-lubricated compared to the superior Air-Oil or Oil injected lubrication used in more powerful machines.

The good quality chilling units used in higher quality CNC machine tools will also provide a more stable and healthy temperature for the spindle bearing over many hours. This is much better than the simple heat exchanger unit used in cheaper machines.

Hence, spindles from higher quality machines will last longer than the cheaper machines, resulting in long-term savings for the manufacturer.

#2 Manufacturing Quality and Stability – Casting, Guideways and Ball Screw Diameters

In low cost machines, the casting is often kept small. Hence, the guideways used will not provide the same levels of stability as the more widely designed casting part used in better quality machines.

You need to also consider the materials and the methods used in manufacturing the casting of the machine. Poor quality machines are often not casted well – evidence of this includes the presence of sand, stones or air-bubbles within the casting itself.

The smaller ball screw diameters and lower quality grade used in cheap machines can also compromise both stability and life spans of the machine tool.

#3 Safety Considerations

Most importantly of all is safety.

Due to the higher safety standards in high labour cost industrialized countries, the CNC machine tools that you get from these places tend to have more safety features buffered into them.

While following higher safety standards may be more costly, you can’t really put a price tag to the well-being and lives of your people. Besides, protecting your machine operators and the people around them can also help your firm to save on insurance costs.

 

Checklist: Evaluating the Design and Build Quality of Machine Tools

To help you to better evaluate if the CNC machine tool that you’re purchasing is of the right quality, consider following the pointers in this simple checklist.

Rigidity of Machine

CNC machine crashes can result in significant downtime. Since cheaper machines are often less rigid, a crash can result in greater damage to your equipment. A rigid machine can also confer a better finish and tool life, and help to preserve the lifespan of the spindle.

Ball Screws, Linear Guides/ Box Ways

In low cost machines, such components may not hold up as well during crash, resulting in further repair costs. There are also cost differences between Ball and Roller Linear Guides. In addition, Box or Solid Guide Ways may also cost differently, depending on their sizes and treatment.

Accessing and Replacing Machine Parts

Have a look at the different models and see how easily can you access and replace individual machine parts. The difference between a low cost and high-quality machine is significant.

Tool Changer Design

Have a look at the designs used for the tool changer. Is it located inside the work area? How easy is it to replace the cam followers that usually break? Does it use a Cam drive or Servo drive?

Spindle Quality

As poor-quality spindle may fail more easily whenever run at high speed or a crash happens. High quality spindles tend to have not only have more and larger bearings, but they are often of better quality – these can handle more abuse over time.

Good quality spindles are also powered by more horse power, ensuring that the spindles will not stall even when large cuts are made or tough materials are used. Spindles with fewer horse power may stall or be unstable in terms of their RPM during heavy cuts. Belt-driven spindles (the cheaper kind) may also stall during such operations.

Due to the consistent speed of high-quality spindles, the finish of the part will be better with higher Rpm. This will also result in a longer tool life and savings in cycle time.

Tolerances

Do check for tighter tolerances in your machine – these normally translate into a longer life and smoother operation.

How Service Readiness Affects CNC Machine Tool Pricing

Last, but certainly not least, you need to consider the after-sales and ongoing services offered by your CNC machine tool manufacturer or supplier.

Here are some important factors to think about:

  1. Wait time for service technician: How closely located is your supplier / dealer? If they take over 1.5 hours to response or travel to your location, the time taken to get your machine fixed can be excruciatingly long.
  2. Quality of service technician: This is a major consideration. As technology becomes more complex, factory trained engineers and knowledge of service engineers are crucial. Information and support from manufacturers are also essential.
  3. Warranty of parts: When it comes to warranties of parts being replaced, you will need to get them from your supplier / dealer. This may include the replacement of spindles or calibration jobs.
  4. Parts availability: Does your dealer / supplier operate from a predictive or reactive position? Are spare parts available readily or easily?
  5. Supplier / dealer response time for information and parts: For some suppliers / dealers it takes at least a day or two to get parts or information from the manufacturer through the dealer. This has to be factored into your production plans.

Conclusion

As you can see from our detailed analysis above, there are many factors which you need to consider when you purchase a CNC Machine Tool.

While a low price may be attractive from the onset, the long-term headaches and costs incurred in repairs and replacements may outweigh any initial cost savings.

Over the long run, companies which invest in good quality equipment, tooling, and accessories – plus invest from time to time in training their staff in the latest techniques – will stand to enjoy greater cost effectiveness and efficiency in their manufacturing operations.

Ready to maximise the yield from your shop floor? Visit our website or contact us for recommendations on the right machine tools to improve your productivity and cost-effectiveness over the long-term.

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NUM Launches Form Compensation Option For NUMROTO Tool Grinding Software

NUM Launches Form Compensation Option For NUMROTO Tool Grinding Software

NUM has launched a powerful form compensation option for its renowned NUMROTO tool grinding software. The new option enables tool manufacturers to ‘close the loop’ between CNC tool grinding and measurement, in order to further increase process accuracy and consistency. The system inherently compensates for process variables such as temperature fluctuations and grinding wheel wear, and is likely to prove especially popular with manufacturers of the latest specialist precision tools, which demand unprecedentedly tight production standards.

READ: NUM Flexium+ CNC Enables Sheet Metal Laser Cutting System To Achieve Exceptional Accuracy

Operators seeking to maximise the accuracy of tools produced on CNC grinding machines generally use a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) to obtain probed measurements of the machined part, using this information to influence the production process during subsequent machining operations. Until now, NUMROTO users processed the results from the CMM with proprietary third party compensation software running on an external computer, before feeding a suitably corrected target profile back into the CNC machine.

READ: NUM Launches Active Vibration Control System For CNC Machine Tools

Developed in conjunction with several key NUMROTO end users, NUM’s new form compensation facility forms a fully integrated part of the company’s form cutter package and completely dispenses with the need for any third-party software. The data exchange between the CMM and the CNC machine can be handled by XML interface or by export/import of the DXF file via a local area network.

The form compensation software employs advanced filtering algorithms to create a very smooth and precise compensation profile. The software always calculates the orientation of the grinding wheel and the path speed from the original profile, so that only the position of the contact point on the cutting edge is compensated – and not the orientation of the grinding wheel. This ensures that the surface quality of the tool is unaffected by the compensation.

 

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Five Ways To Enhance CNC Machine Manufacturing With The Cloud

Five Ways To Enhance CNC Machine Manufacturing With The Cloud

Considering shifting your manufacturing into the cloud? Read the practical steps from Naveen Nadesan, ANCA Motion Global Marketing Manager, to make the most of the move.

Connectivity with the world is now something we take for granted in our everyday lives. We no longer need to be in the office to check emails, receive calls or even access our files. We can be anywhere in the world and, thanks to the cloud and mobile technology, still be connected. It’s a world of digital transformation that now applies to CNC machines.

READ: Taking metal to the cloud

New cloud-based management software, along with the Internet of Things – that is the networking of machines that send and receive data – are helping us design, test and produce parts no matter where we are, or where our facilities are. Pooling of live data in t  he cloud means we can now optimise our processes in real time, even from the other side of the world.

Here are five ways the cloud will enhance CNC machines.

1. The cloud improves CNC machine productivity

“We need more of it and faster.” Ever heard that one? Cloud-based management of CNC machines can improve productivity through the removal of complex workflows, reduced costs for installation and manufacturing and the big one… automation.

Think also of the productivity gains that are possible when operation staff can access information and collaborate remotely as well as make updates in real time from multiple locations.

Automation on machines also means you can reduce the cost of doing business as manufacturers can run part batches ‘lights out’. This means that no matter where in the world you can be competitive – even in traditionally higher cost labour regions.

READ: Outlook For Cloud Computing Market

2. The cloud offers greater visibility

Cloud-based management of your machines gives you the ability to monitor them and production in real time and make faster, informed decisions about your capabilities.

This greater visibility provides insight into your supply chain and usage patterns including production levels, inventory, available capacity, quality levels and order status – without delay. This in turn will help you manage customer expectations around delivery.

3. Less downtime for more business continuity

How much time did you lose last year to unplanned machine downtime? CNC machines that are connected to the cloud provide constant data about their health and productivity. Sharing this information across the business can help identify production problems, including root causes, and also help predict machine failures before they happen.

The cloud is also your secure, offsite data backup. If and when something goes wrong there’s no need to worry about when the last manual back up was done – it’s automatically taken care of.

READ: Microsoft Announces Cloud And IoT Updates For Manufacturing Industry

4. More solid security

There is often a concern that the cloud may not provide the same IP protection as on-site data management. The truth is that the cloud may be less risky than your existing setup. Moving to the cloud means your business can access the policies and controls of your cloud host, without paying for the cost of maintaining facilities and hardware.

According to the World Intellectual Property Association, most IP data breaches occur internally as a result of access and privilege abuse. The cloud allows you to create levels of security and encryption to better protect your IP from internal abuse.

A proper cloud management suite can provide data encryption, automated software updates, automated backup and data centre grade security without the cost of having a full-time IT department.

5. Improved CNC Machine quality

Quality and precision are everything when it comes to high end CNC machined parts. Even small variances in performance can cause manufacturing disruption and costly recalls.

Cloud technology is helping tool manufacturers more easily develop customer scripting and maintain a high level of accuracy, even on large batches.

It also helps enable virtual simulation of tooling and modelling which can reduce waste and speed up trials.

Cloud-connectivity is the next big step for CNC machines. By taking the leap your business can reap the time, security, cost and productivity rewards, not to mention increasing visibility over operations no matter where you are in the world.

 

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CNC Control For Rolling Machines

CNC Control for Rolling Machines

Today, CNC controlled machines can be found in almost all industries, from small-scale metalwork shops to big manufacturing companies. There is barely any phase of the manufacturing process that is not affected by automated CNC machines. Faccin SPA, a manufacturer of plate rolling equipment, foresaw back in the early 1980’s the need of the metal forming industry to have CNC-controlled rolling machines. Article by Faccin SPA.

After a continuous research and development, the first generation of Faccin-CNC bending rolls reached the metal forming manufacturers and for more than 30 years Faccin has been offering them all the benefits of the most advanced and powerful numerical control developed for bending rolls: the PGS-ULTRA.

The first benefit offered by Faccin’s CNC PGS-Ultra is improved automation for its plate rolls. The operator involvement linked to producing workpieces can be greatly reduced or eliminated. Therefore a CNC-controlled plate roll can run unattended during most of its rolling cycle, freeing the operator to do other tasks. This gives the CNC-controlled machine user other benefits like reduced operator fatigue, less mistakes triggered by human error and a steady and foreseeable rolling time and quality for each piece.

Since the rolling machine will be running under program control, the skill level required of the operator will also be reduced, decreasing the dependability risk of the manufacturing company on a single highly skilled operator.

The CNC PGS-Ultra, built with industrial SIEMENS hardware and a perfected user-friendly graphic interface, is so simple to use that even an inexperienced operator can program the rolling machine to produce simple circular shapes of different diameters and lengths or more complex pieces like polycentric tanks, spirals for ventilators, plates of variable lengths, and many more.

Accurate Rolled Pieces

The second major benefit of the CNC-controlled plate-rolling technology is consistent and accurate rolled pieces. Today’s CNC-controlled machines manufactured by Faccin can claim unbelievable precision and repeatability of rolled pieces. This means that once a program is verified, no matter the quantity, identical rolled pieces can be effortlessly produced with precision and consistency.

A third benefit offered by the CNC-controlled plate rolling machines is flexibility. Since these machines are run from a very “easy-to-use” program, running a different workpiece is as easy as selecting it from a different shape option on the screen. Special and unique options are available in the standard configuration like the possibility to build programs for rolling variable thickness programs, calculation of the plate developed length, cycle time, etc. Once a program has been verified and executed for a production run, it can be easily recalled the next time the workpiece is to be run. This leads to yet another benefit, fast change-over.

Motion Control Feature

Finally yet importantly, a wide range of machine accessories like feeding table, plate centering, lateral and top supports, clamping devices, can be controlled with the CNC PGS-Ultra through an easy-to-use motion control feature that manages 15 programmable directions (axes) allowing the operator to configure all the accessories required in the manufacturing process of high quality rolled plates.

Since programs can be easily loaded on the CNC PGS-Ultra, a very short setup time is required and therefore plate-rolling machines become very easy to set up and run which is imperative with today’s just-in-time production requirements.

Manufacturing companies face today huge challenges, intensified pressure and the need to reduce production time, improve flexibility and increase quality with energy reduction. Faccin is ready for Industry 4.0 thanks to its Smart Package 4.0 that offers features like Systems Diagnosis, Teleservice, Management Control, Drawing Imports, Rolling and Production Lot Statistics and Flexible Network Solutions between others, helping the manufacturers of today, face the challenges of tomorrow.

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Laser Cutting Technology: Why Choose It?

Laser Cutting Technology: Why Choose It?

Since people realised the precision and efficiency of laser cutting in the early 1960s, industrialists are looking for ways to implement this cutting-edge technology to their respective industries. That’s why, from clinical to aerospace use, laser cutting is ruling over metal integrity without raising any questionable eyebrows in case of profit. Article by FMB Trading & Engineering.

Laser cutting is usually the first step of the process before it continues down the line to undergo metal bending, metal rolling, and other types of metal fabrication in stainless steel, mild steel and aluminium.

But What Is This Laser Cutting That Everyone Is Talking About?

Laser cutting is a process to cut or engrave any material precisely, using a high-powered beam. Mostly, the entire process is based on computer-controlled parameters, directed by Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) Machine from a vector CAD file.

The laser cutting technology is used for many industrial purposes, specifically, to cut metal plates, such as aluminium, stainless steel and mild steel. On these types of steel, laser cutting process is very precise compared to any other metal sheet cutting process. Besides, laser cutting process has a very small heat afterzone and also a small kerf width. That’s why it’s possible to delicate shapes and tiny holes for production.

How Laser Cutting Technology Works

Laser is a fancy 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.

The amplification process occurs within the optical resonator in the cavity, which is set between two mirrors. One of them is partially transmissive and the other one is reflective. The glasses allow beam’s energy to get back in the lasing medium and there it stimulates even more emissions. But if a photon isn’t aligned with machine’s resonator, the reflective and transmissive mirror do not redirect it. This ensures amplification of properly oriented photons only, thus creating a coherent beam.

The colour or the wavelength of the laser that cuts through the metals depends on which type of laser is being used in the laser cutting process. But mostly, carbon dioxide (CO2) gets to cut the metals which is a highly intensified beam of Infra-red part of the light spectrum.

This type of beam travels through the Laser resonator before going through metal sheet to give them shapes. But before the beam falls over the metal plates, the focused light beam undergoes the bore of a nozzle, just before it hits a surface.

But 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 not be as expected. The operators cross check the focus density and width many times before hitting the metal with it.

By focusing this huge beam into a single point-like area, the heat density is increased. Then the high-temperature beam, focused on a single point can cut through even the strongest of metals. This works like the magnifying glass. When the solar rays fall on the magnifying glass, the curved surface gathers them into a single point, which consequently produces extreme heat in a small area and that’s why the dry leaf under the magnifying glass burns out.

The laser cutting process work on the same principle. It gathers lights into a small area that starts rapid heating, partial or complete meltdown and even vaporization of the material completely. This heat from laser beam is so extreme that it can start a typical Oxy fuel burning process when the laser beam is cutting mild steel.

And when the laser beam hits aluminium and stainless steel surface, it simply melts down the metal. Then the pressurised nitrogen blows away molten aluminium or steel to finish the industrial-grade clear and precise cutting.

On the CNC laser cutters, cutting tip/head is moved on the metal surface to create the desired shape. For maintaining accurate distance between the plate and the nozzle end, usually a capacitive height control system is adopted.

Maintaining this distance in this case is crucial because the distance determines where the focal area is relative to the surface of the metal plate. The precision of cutting can be diverted by lowering or raising the focal point from the surface.

Types of Laser In Laser Cutting Technology

Basically, there are three different types of lasers used in laser cutting process. Most common one is CO2 laser, which is suited for engraving, boring, and cutting. Then there is Neodymium (Nd) and the Neodymium Yttrium-Aluminium-Garnet or Nd:YAG for short. Nd and Nd:YAG is identical in style but have few dissimilarities in application. Where Nd is used for boring that required high energy but low repetition, Nd:YAG is used for both engraving and boring with high power.

All three types can be used for welding purpose.

Besides, laser cutting technology comes in two different formats. Gantry and the Galvanometer system. Where in Gantry system, position of laser is perpendicular to the surface and the machine directs the beam over the surface, in galvanometer system, the laser beams are repositioned by using mirrored angles.

This is the reason why gantry is comparatively slower and manufacturers usually adapt this format for prototyping. But galvanometer system is way faster. In this format, the machine can pierce through 100 feet of steel in a minute. That’s why Galvanometer system is more commonly used for full-on production work.

Designing For Laser Cutting

For automatic cutting, laser machines require CAD Vector files. These files are prepared in soft wares like InkScape, Adobe Illustrator, AutoCad, etc. These CAD (Computer Aided Design) files are exported as .eps, .pdf, .dff, and .aj formats.

Why Use Laser Cutting Technology Over Any Other Process?

Laser cutting technology can be useful for both mass production and start-up order. Here’s why industrialist and entrepreneurs believe in laser cutting more than anything:

Cost Efficiency

The cost efficiency of Laser cutting is something that is much rare in other metal curving technologies. In mass production, Laser cutting technology is very efficient in cutting a good chunk of manual engineering jobs, which helps you keep minimal production cost.

Time Saver

By sparing some really costly and time consuming engineering job for the laser machine, you can balance your production cost as well as save some precious time.

Precise Cutting

With laser cutting, you get even more precision in shaping your metals. The cutting technology is more efficient than plasma cutting, which is a compliment on its own. From getting exact replica of your design to smooth and clear finish, laser cutting does that for you with maximum precision.

Energy Efficiency

Apart from cutting a slack from the production cost, this cutting edge technology is also efficient in saving energy consumption while shaping the metals. While a traditional metal cutting machine will require around 40-50KW of power, with laser cutting, you can get it done with 10KW. That’s a lot of saving if it is being used for full-on production.

Reduced Contamination of Workpiece

Compared to other traditional metal cutting techniques, laser cutting technology is far more efficient in utilising the most of your workpiece without wasting it while engraving, or cutting rounded edges.

Easy and Delicate Boring

Not only does it gives precise and clear-cut edges, but also, laser cutting technology is embraced when piercing through metal bodies with very small diameter. Even with such small width, you get precise holes. That’s why it’s best suited for delicate works in the factory.

Cuts Almost Anything In Almost Any Shape

If you can design it, laser cutting technology can make that happen and that’s why industrialists are depending on laser machines for making prototypes for their product.

Conclusion

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.

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