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Going Big: The XXL-format Fibre Laser

Going Big: The XXL-format Fibre Laser

As the population of large-format CO2 lasers age and require more substantial investments in maintenance, there are more shops looking for a solution to efficiently handle XXL cutting jobs. Article by Kurt Van Collie, LVD.

Historically, traditional thermal cutting processes (oxy-fuel, plasma and CO2-Laser) have been the technology of choice for cutting extra-large format sheet metal or heavy workpieces. But as fibre lasers continue to increase in power and efficiency, traditional large-format cutting methods are losing ground in certain thicknesses.

The cost-effectiveness of new, high-power fibre lasers and the need for more flexibility, makes the XXL-format fibre laser a strong choice for large cutting applications serving markets such as steel service centres, shipyards, off-road vehicles, construction, large-plate subcontracting, and others. And, as the population of large-format CO2 lasers age and require more substantial investments in maintenance, there are more shops looking for a solution to efficiently handle XXL cutting jobs.

More Flexibility

Like most manufacturers, companies processing large-format metal sheets want to lower their cost per part. This means having a more versatile cutting process that considers both profiling and bending, and reduces processing time. It also means having the capacity to cut a broader scope of materials and material thicknesses, as well as more complex parts.

Increasingly important are optional features (such as bevel cutting) that add value. As fabricators deal with uncertain and changeable market conditions, flexibility is more critical than ever before. 

Modern Design

The modern XXL-format fibre laser cutting machine addresses the need for more flexibility. Key to this is the machine design. 

A number of large-format lasers no longer employ a shuttle table configuration but are gantry-style designs similar to traditional oxy-fuel and plasma cutters. The advantage is that the limitation in the length of a large-format laser machine comes down to the available floor space and not the machine construction.

The laser shown in Figure 1 is a modular design that begins at a 10-meter bed size and can be expanded in increments of four metres up to a bed length of 42 m, accommodating sheets up to 3.2 m wide and material thicknesses up to 30 mm.

For shops processing large plates or even those cutting a diversity of jobs, a large-format machine means larger productivity gains. Large parts can be processed without repositioning while multiple smaller workpieces can be positioned on the cutting table and processed in continuous fashion, without interruption. Parts can be cut on one section of the table, and then offloaded on another, keeping downtime to an absolute minimum.

Large format sheets also make it easier to nest parts of varying sizes, providing better sheet utilisation, less material waste and higher productivity. Smart laser cutting software automates the nesting process for optimal cutting.

A machine design that allows better access also enhances productivity. This streamlined design (Figure 1) uses just one cover over the gantry, allowing loading and unloading operations to take place on a greater portion of the cutting table while the system is processing.

 

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TRUMPF Unveils New New 3D Printer To Help Fabricators Move Into Mass Production

TRUMPF Unveils New New 3D printer To Help Fabricators Move Into Mass Production

TRUMPF has unveiled the new series of its TruPrint 3000 3D printing system at a virtual customer event. The medium-format machine uses powder-bed-based laser melting to produce parts with a diameter of up to 300 millimeters and a height of up to 400 millimeters. It can handle all weldable materials including steels, nickel-based alloys, titanium and aluminum.

“We’ve improved key aspects of the TruPrint 3000 to tailor it even more closely to the quality requirements, certifications and production processes of various industries,” says Klaus Parey, managing director of TRUMPF Additive Manufacturing.

The new TruPrint 3000 can be equipped with a second laser that almost doubles its productivity. “The multilaser option significantly reduces part costs – that’s how we help our customers make the move into mass production,” says Parey.

Two 500-watt lasers scan the machine’s entire build chamber in parallel. This makes production much faster and more efficient regardless of the number and geometries of the parts. With the Automatic Multilaser Alignment option, the system can automatically monitor the multilaser scan fields during the build stage and calibrate them to each other. With each laser scanning a contour, the process does not lead to any kind of weld seams. This is what allows multilaser parts to meet such outstanding quality standards.

The TRUMPF experts have transformed the movement of inert gas through the TruPrint 3000. The way in which it flows through the machine from back to front is now even steadier and more uniform. As well as boosting the quality of printed parts, this also allows the operator to remove excess powder from the part while it is still inside the machine. Previous models required the operator to take the part out and remove the powder at a separate station. The new machine is designed to process the powder in a shielded environment, using an inert gas to prevent the powder from becoming contaminated during the build. This is a major advantage for sensitive industries such as medical device manufacturing.

 

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Tube Processing Made Easy

Tube Processing Made Easy

Bystronic’s laser cutting system offers manufacturing companies an easy entry into tube processing—a field of business with a bright future.

For sheet metal processing companies that want to expand their portfolio to include tube processing, to capture a wider market including automotive and construction industries right through to furniture, machine, and equipment manufacturers, Bystronic’s ByTube 130 is the optimal solution.

The automated system reduces the need for manual interventions to a minimum and thus makes the entry into the field of tube processing particularly easy. At the same time, the machine covers a very wide range of requirements: Since 85 percent of the market potential lies in the small tube segment, the ByTube 130 is geared toward the processing of tubes with diameters between 10 and 130 mm. The machine has a loading capacity of 17 kg/m. The 2D cutting head allows a large proportion of customer requests to be processed, since vertical cuts account for 90 percent of the market.

Fibre Laser Ensures Speed and Flexibility

The wide processing spectrum offers users the flexibility required to process a diverse range of orders. In addition, the ByTube 130 has the potential to replace complex and cost-intensive processing steps: A growing number of manufacturing companies are discovering laser cutting as an alternative to the two separate processes of sawing and drilling. The fibre laser performs both at once – and considerably faster. Thanks to clean cutting edges, deburring is also a thing of the past. This not only results in reduced labor costs. The costs per part are also reduced thanks to higher throughput speeds, which constitutes a huge advantage in the competition for the best price.

Available in two performance levels – 2 or 3 kilowatts – the fibre laser aggregate of the ByTube 130 excels with outstanding energy efficiency. While fibre laser technology has already established itself for the cutting of sheet metal, it is now also gaining popularity in the field of tube processing for both thin and thicker materials. The consistent cutting quality is another compelling argument in favor of fibre laser technology. And due to its shorter wavelength compared to CO2 laser technology, it has no problems with highly reflective non-ferrous metals, such as copper and brass.

Users thus benefit from three key advantages: variety of materials, efficiency, and cutting precision. Because companies that are able to process a wide variety of materials, meet tight deadlines, and deliver consistently high quality stay ahead in the competition for orders.

Software Turns Beginners Into Pros

Visualizing parts and models, creating cutting plans, and monitoring production processes: State-of-the-art sheet metal processing is not possible without high-performance software. With the new ByVision Tube user interface, Bystronic unites all the functions associated with the laser cutting of tubes on a touch screen. Entry-level users do not require extensive experience to be able to start producing with the ByTube 130. Cutting jobs are set up rapidly, and the interface is highly intuitive.

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Fibre Lasers: Making Their Mark

Fibre Lasers: Making their Mark

As fibre laser technology continues to advance and as the installation base of systems grows across the globe, there is more on the horizon as manufacturers continue to strengthen its capabilities. Article by LVD.

Machine gantry plays a role in high cutting dynamics.

In the past 10 years, fibre lasers have made a significant impact on the sheet metal fabrication industry. Today, the fibre laser is the most sought-after solid-state laser and is where most laser development work is happening. In global industrial revenues for 2019, sales of fibre lasers far surpassed those of CO2, disc, diode and other lasers. Fibre laser revenues (51 percent) represented about half the total industrial laser revenues in 2019 (Industrial Laser Solutions, January 2020)

No doubt, fibre laser technology has experienced widespread acceptance in the sheet metal cutting sector and a number of factors have powered its growth. Initially best suited for cutting thin sheet metal at high speeds, today the scope and capability of fibre lasers is so much more. 

More power and control

Features like an automatic nozzle changer adds to the efficiency of fibre lasers.

High-powered fibre lasers—6-, 8-, 10-kW—have changed the playing field. While high-powered lasers have existed for more than a decade, it is only within the last four years that laser head technology has caught up, allowing manufacturers to expand the scope of materials and thicknesses that can be cut. As a result, a fibre laser cutting machine with 10-kW source can cut 6 mm mild steel at 12,000 mm/min. Even more impressive is the increase in speed when cutting stainless steel and aluminium.

Advancements in cutting head design have made it possible to change the spot size of the laser giving greater flexibility and optimised cutting speeds over a wider variety of material thicknesses. Modern fibre lasers use a variable beam collimator or “zoom focus” cutting head, which allows the focal point to be expanded when cutting thicker materials and decreased for cutting thinner materials. In this way the density of energy, cutting speeds and piercing times are optimised for each material thickness. A significant challenge when cutting thick mild steel is to create a fast and stable piercing process. The machine-controlled focus adjustment (zoom focus) optimises the piercing process by enhancing piercing stability and quality.

High cutting dynamics

Modern cutting head.

With the use of higher power sources and zoom focus technology, cutting speeds have increased dramatically. A fibre laser can achieve up to 5G acceleration. But leveraging more power and high cutting dynamics is only possible in a machine designed for the job. Basically, if the machine can’t maintain the exact position of the tip of the cutting head at maximum speed and acceleration, the cutting process must be slowed down for parts to keep their desired shape. 

The machine frame plays a key role in keeping the cutting head in position at maximum speeds and so is critical to a fibre laser’s cutting dynamics. An extremely rigid frame can ‘contain’ the inertia of the high-speed movement of the cutting head and gantry making it possible to take advantage of higher levels of power. In a machine without such a solid structure, the frame is not able to ‘contain’ the deflection of the frame, which can cause problems with accuracy and shorten machine life. 

The machine gantry which holds the cutting head carriage should also be a rigid construction to prevent flexing. 

A fibre laser cutting machine that combines both an extremely rigid frame and gantry can maintain high acceleration even while cutting.

Improved efficiencies

Reduced maintenance and operating costs are attractive features of fibre laser technology. The wall-plug efficiency (WPE) of the laser source, which is the ratio of power into the source versus power out at the head for cutting, is a core part of these costs. Latest generation fibre laser sources have pushed WPE from 25 percent to over 40 percent. In comparison, the WPE for CO2 lasers is 10 percent and the WPE for disc lasers stands at approximately 25 percent.

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A Company At The Heart Of The Car Industry

A Company At The Heart Of The Car Industry

The reputation of the Japanese for being hardworking and quality-conscious is not just a cliché. This is proved by the family-run company Daisan Kouki. The job shop processes sheet metal for the automotive industry and relies on technology made in Switzerland. The machines run around the clock—this is the only way to guarantee the highest quality while meeting the ever shorter lead times. We take a glimpse behind the scenes. Article by Stefan Jermann, Bystronic Group.

The ByTrans Extended automation system (on the left) facilitates the loading and unloading of the cutting machines.

Tokyo Central Railway Station. It stands there like an arrow in a taut bow, the rolling legend: the Shinkansen. The interior of the fastest train in the world reflects much of that has made Japan what it is today: a high-tech nation that visitors experience almost like a journey into the future. Everywhere one looks, there is state-of-the-art technology and innovative design. Also inside the Shinkansen. One example of this are the rotating seats, which can be turned against the direction of travel if required.

Travelling to Nagoya with closed eyes, you hardly notice the tremendous speed of more than 320 kilometers per hour. It’s only when you look out of the window that you realize how fast you are actually tearing through the countryside. In addition to technical perfection, the Shinkansen also demonstrates the exeptional service mentality in Japan: Hungry or thirsty travelers need only wait a short while before one of the super-friendly staff comes by to offer snacks.

At the focal point of the automotive industry

The 366 kilometres to Nagoya take virtually no time at all. The journey to the city with a population of 2.5 million, the coal point of the Japanese car industry, takes just one and three-quarter hours. This is where all the major Japanese car manufacturers have their factories: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Mazda. Nagoya generates approximately the same gross domestic product (GDP) as all of Norway. The cargo port and the well-developed land routes facilitate smooth logistics; over the years many suppliers have settled in the vicinity of the renowned car manufacturers. One of the companies that produce here is the family enterprise Daisan Kouki.

The company has been firmly in the family for 70 years. “In the 1960s, Daisan Kouki was a pure family business,” says Noriyuki Wakahara, the managing director of the company, which today has 104 employees. The core business of the company founder, his grandfather-in-law, was trading sheet metal. “One day, when a customer asked why we don’t also process sheet metal, we saw the light,” Wakahara recalls.

In 2004, Daisan Kouki, took its first step into the world of sheet metal processing and purchased a 2 kilowatt laser cutting system. In the years that followed, the factory was continuously expanded – among other things to comply with increasingly strict earthquake safety standards.

“We have always attached great value to reliably meeting even the highest quality requirements and have thus made a good name for ourselves on the industry,” says Wakahara. Most of his customers are active in the automotive sector. The parts that Daisan Kouki manufacturers support the production, above all in creating the production chain.

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Bystronic Offers Live Streaming Demos And Support App For Customers

Bystronic Offers Live streaming Demos And Support App For Customers

Personal customer contact is vital. However, it is sometimes difficult to arrange appointments to meet face-to-face.

Alvin Huang (Application Engineer),Multi-screen display, Clear cutting screen.

Norbert Seo (Division Head Asia & Australia) has a solution: Live streaming demos for our customers and a support app to solve problems straight away via a video link to second level support.

“We came up with the idea long before the corona crisis and we are now delighted that we are able to offer this service to our customers,” said Nobert Seo. Last November, he and his team started to analyse and implement live streaming options. Now all our subsidiaries worldwide are offering live streaming demos.

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“We are the only company in our sector that supports its customers with live demos. And this is of particular importance under the current circumstances when it is impossible to visit many customers personally and they cannot visit us,” Norbert added.

These new sales and service tools were developed in-house. The main focus was on the quality of the transmitted image and the security of customer data.

IDEA – Innovation Demonstration Experience App

Over the past few months Norbert and his team have been carrying out tests to implement the live streaming demos. Eddie Tu (Service Manager, Bystronic Taiwan) conducted the very first live demos in Taiwan by sending customers a YouTube link which they can use to log into the live session and demonstrations can be carried out using parts they produce.

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Upon customer request, the demo can also be adapted to specific cutting or bending conditions during the actual presentation, which can hence be demonstrated live to the customer. Customers can ask questions directly using the live chat app, which are then answered either via the stream or the chat. The team also conducts online training courses for service technicians, sales staff, and hotline operators in this way.

“We conduct the sessions in English and offer technical data sheets in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese,” said Norbert. The demos are available in an online archive and can thus be presented to the customer directly on site whenever required at some later date. It is also possible to use this method to carry out internal training courses.

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Norbert sees even more possibilities for the new online demo solution: “All the demos are stored, so that our sales staff can showcase our machines with a simple click during their next customer visit.”

Eddie is convinced that the demos will also serve as an additional “door opener” for potential customers: “In order to motivate our existing and new customers to visit the Experience Center, the first step can be to show them the demos that relate specifically to the machine type and materials they are interested in.”

The IDEA project is being optimised continuously. In the meantime, it is being adapted and implemented around the globe by all Bystronic subsidiaries that have an Experience Center.

Video Link To Second Level Support Via App

A direct link to the customer via an app. This idea also originated from our colleagues in Southeast Asia. It was first implemented in South Korea. This new real-time support function allows customers to contact the second level support in South Korea which then establishes a direct video link using the app.

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The online support service works via the customer’s smartphone, which enables the hotliner to solve the problem quickly and easily using live images. The app includes additional functions such as voice chat, sketching, image sharing, sending text messages to the customer, recording, screenshots, QR code recognition, etc. For this, Bystronic Korea purchased a special license.

The standard procedure is as follows:

  1. The customer calls the Bystronic hotline in the normal way.
  2. The hotliner sends a message to the customer’s smartphone.
  3. The customer taps on the link and is connected to the Bystronic hotline.
  4. Using the camera of his/her smartphone, the customer shows the hotliner the problem, who can then provide direct support.
  5. If the problem cannot be solved remotely, the hotliner deploys a service technician.

“This allows us to provide our customers with very fast and optimal support. And we are also observing how live images make it easier for our hotliners to solve problems,” Norbert concluded.

 

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Why You Need To Invest In Laser Cutting Technology

Why You Need to Invest in Laser Cutting Technology

Laser cutting technology is making rapid progress. For many fields of application, the fiber laser has outstripped the CO2 laser. However, for thick sheet metal, in particular steel, CO2 laser technology still has its advantages. Article by Ralph Hofbauer, Bystronic.

Fibre laser.

At first, when Theodore Maiman developed the first functional laser in 1960, there were no practical applications for it. The US physicist described his invention as a ‘solution in search of a problem’. In the meantime, laser technology has found a wide range of applications—from medical technology to consumer electronics, right through to production engineering.

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In the sheet metal processing industry, laser technology established itself during the eighties. At that time, the CO2 laser displaced conventional sheet metal processing methods, such as shears, die-cutting, and flame cutting. Nowadays, the fibre laser is considered state-of-the-art. The technology established itself astonishingly quickly. “Over the past five years, the fibre laser has experienced a greater development leap than the CO2 laser over a period of 20 years,” says Mario Duppenthaler, Laser Cutting Product Manager.

Ever-expanding Range of Applications

CO2 laser.

Bystronic launched its first cutting system based on fibre laser technology in 2010. Since then, the output power has grown fivefold: While the first model had an output of two kilowatts, Bystronic’s current top-of-the-line model, the ByStar Fiber, achieves ten kilowatts. This rapid progress has expanded the fibre laser’s range of applications. Initially, fibre laser technology was suitable only for thin sheet metal, but in the meantime fibre laser systems can cut sheet metal thicknesses up to 40 mm.

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The success of fibre laser technology is based on a number of advantages. Compared to CO2 lasers, modern fibre lasers achieve up to five times the cutting speeds and are three times as energy efficient. This enables the costs per part to be decreased significantly. The operating and maintenance costs are lower, amongst other things because in contrast to CO2 laser system, fibre lasers do not have to be enriched with laser gas. In addition, fibre lasers can also cut non-ferrous metals, such as brass and copper. 

For many sheet metal processing companies, the fibre laser has become the best choice. Nevertheless, there are still some production companies with special manufacturing needs that continue to rely on the benefits of the CO2 laser.

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“In the thicker range of sheet steel, the cutting characteristics of CO2 lasers are more good-natured. Moreover, when cutting low-quality sheet metal, it achieves better results in terms of price per part,” Duppenthaler explains. Although the market share has decreased significantly over recent years, some ten percent of the cutting machines Bystronic sells still use CO2 laser technology.

More Power, Greater Flexibility

The choice of the optimal cutting system depends on the sheet metal thickness and the material.

When investing in a fibre laser, one has to take both economic and ecological factors into account: When switching over to a fibre laser, companies that use the exhaust heat from their CO2 laser’s cooling system to heat their factory must be aware that the exhaust heat from a fibre laser is minimal. In addition, it is not easy to keep up with the ever-increasing cutting speeds: “Fibre lasers have considerably accelerated the cutting process stage. In some cases, to such an extent that the upstream and downstream processes are turning into bottlenecks,” Duppenthaler says.

In the thin and medium range of sheet thicknesses, the fibre laser generates a significantly higher output than CO2 laser technology. The reason for the higher cutting speeds lies in the lower wavelength: While the CO2 laser generates a wavelength of 10 µm, with the fibre laser it is only 1 µm, which results in a higher absorption of the laser beam in the material when cutting steel and aluminium. Due to the fast cutting speeds, the challenge with the current generation of fibre lasers is to load and unload the machine quickly enough. Hence, as a general rule, it makes sense to enhance fibre lasers with an automation system.

READ: Fibre Laser or CO2 Laser—Which Will Prevail?

Many sheet metal processing companies on the market are pure job shops that do not produce any products of their own. These companies must be prepared to deal with a wide variety of order situations.

“Job shops are today more than ever dependent on flexibility,” Duppenthaler explains. “Thanks to their versatility, high-performance fibre lasers are the optimal solution for job order production.”

Fibre lasers with 8 or 10 kilowatts offer the required flexibility, because they cut thin sheet metal at fast speeds while simultaneously being able to cope with the thick sheet metal range. Moreover, in the medium range of sheet thicknesses between 5 and 10 mm, the costs per part are considerably lower than with CO2 lasers.

In order to remain competitive in a tough environment, being able to produce parts at the lowest possible cost and in the desired quality is a crucial factor for manufacturing companies. The different laser output levels and formats in Bystronic’s portfolio of fibre lasers and CO2 lasers make this possible for every order situation and range of applications.

How much output power is necessary?

For users who mainly operate in the thin sheet metal range up to 3 mm, a 3-kilowatt laser is usually quite sufficient. These include, for example, manufacturers of kitchen appliances or electrical control cabinets. However, companies that cut a wide range of thicknesses require more power. As a general rule, an 8-kilowatt or 10-kilowatt fibre laser is the optimal solution for job shops. These machines offer a higher level of flexibility with regard to the thickness and range of materials. In addition, the costs per part are significantly lower in the medium sheet thickness range.

 

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Enabling Flexible 3D Laser Cutting

Enabling Flexible 3D Laser Cutting

There has been an increasing demand for laser cutting machines suited for high-mix, low-volume applications. Here’s one development targeted in that area. Article by Trumpf.

In the face of an increasingly volatile market, a growing number of product variants, and shorter delivery times, the picture is clear that the sheet metal industry is getting more complex and lot sizes are falling. This trend, in turn, creates a demand for machines that are suited for small and medium lot sizes and for applications where fast set up times are required.

READ: Artificial Intelligence In Bending

On the other hand, while investment costs are important, operating costs play an equally—if not even more important—role.

In line with this, Trumpf has launched the TruLaser Cell 5030, an entry-level machine for flexible 2D and 3D laser cut processing with small and medium quantities.

The TruLaser Cell 5030 features magnetic coupling that minimizes mechanical damage to the machine, enabling work to continue quickly and precisely in the event of a collision, without the need for a service technician. Although there are manufacturers who also offer magnetic coupling, the difference is that the optics for the TruLaser Cell 5030 are completely disconnected and offer a much higher degree of freedom and reduce the risk of damage. It also offers the possibility to be disconnected in the Z – direction on top of the X and Y direction.

Low-cost Production

Cut contour without
adaptive feed control.

Investment costs are important, but operating costs play an equally—if not even more important—role. Compared to hybrid and sheet-mover machines, the TruLaser Cell 5030 reduces hourly operating costs by up to 20 percent. The energy efficient and low maintenance TruDisk laser enables significant improvements in energy efficiency during production without compromising on cutting speed and productivity.

The X-Blast Technology has twice the cutting range, and the cutting nozzle can work at a greater distance to the sheet metal, which would result in fewer nozzle collisions and better edge quality as compared to conventional cutting technologies.

READ: TRUMPF Enables Automated Removal, Stacking of Parts

It possesses the flexibility that job shops require for cutting mild steel, stainless and aluminum sheets, but also shaped blanks for the automotive and motorcycle industry. The machine requires 30 percent less space, which means precious space in the production hall is made available

In summary, the time to setup a part on the TruLaser Cell 5030 will be shorter compared to a sheet moving system, which translates to additional savings.

Fast, Faster, Fastest

Cut contour with
adaptive feed control.

Apart from achieving low-cost production, owners are looking at getting their end product cut within the shortest time. But, apart from just having a quick machine that cuts fast, application is also a contributing factor in achieving fast cutting.

READ: TRUMPF Workmate: Digital Assistant for Sheet Metal Fabrication

There are many options available to choose from, for instance, if you are cutting thick materials or sheets. The Brightline Fiber enables the user to achieve high-quality cutting results while enjoying the benefits of thin sheet processing with a solid-state laser, most notable at high cutting speeds.

  1. Top cutting quality: You can create high-quality cutting edges in thick sheet with BrightLine fiber function. The optimized kerf makes part removal easier and saves time.
  2. Top part quality: BrightLine fiber combines special optics with flow-optimized BrightLine nozzles and the switchable 2-in-1 cable. The result of this is that you achieve maximum part quality. The smooth cutting edges ensure that your parts do not get caught during removal, saving you a great deal of time.

Work Smart While Cutting Fast

As for owners who are cutting mild steels, which are typically less resistant to corrosion, maintaining the optimum feed rate in cases where the thickness of the material varies within a single sheet, or where the top of the sheet is contaminated with rust or paint would lead to slag formation or interruptions in the cutting process, is no longer an issue.

READ: One Technology—Many Benefits

Active Speed Control enables constant monitoring of the cutting process with a live view through the nozzle. The sensor system observes the kerf, determines the optimal feed, and readjusts if necessary—hundreds of times per second. This minimizes cutting interruptions caused by material differences such as fluctuations in sheet thickness, rust, or coating contaminations. In the event of a potential cutting flaw, Active Speed Control stops the machine, and the TruTops Monitor software immediately informs the operator that intervention is necessary. Active Speed Control also reduces the formation of burrs and dross. The minimized reject rate leads to lowered parts costs and improves process reliability, while only requiring minimum operator involvement with the machine.

Comparison Between Laser Cutting With and Without Feed Control

Cut contour without adaptive feed control

Material bulging can easily happen when flame cutting mild steel without Active Speed Control. This will lead to unclean cuts in certain areas. Ultimately, the feed needed to be stopped entirely, as a cutting flaw had occurred. This results in faulty parts and rejects.

READ: TRUMPF Discusses Opportunities For Growth In Vietnam

Cut contour with adaptive feed control

Active Speed Control creates a clean cut, largely without a large amount of spatter or spatter residue. As rust and surface contaminations lead to automatic control and adjustment of the cutting head feed, cutting flaws are prevented effectively.

The World of Sheet Metal Processing

Nothing sums sheet metal laser cutting up more perfectly than a Grand Prix race. The power that the car effectively transfers to the road is important in a race. The same would also apply to laser cutting—only a carefully thought out machine concept, where all components are coordinated with one another, allows the laser and machine to apply the full power to the sheet metal. So how do you win a race? By skipping the pit stops.

Eliminate Pits Stops by Cutting More With Less

With the Highspeed Eco cutting procedure, you can set speed records for nitrogen cutting with solid-state lasers. Depending on the sheet thickness, the sheet throughput is increased by up to 100 percent with consistent laser power, and you can reduce gas consumption by 70 percent.

Its benefits are as follows:

  1. Speed
    1. Productivity and feed speed increased by up to 100 percent.
    2. Shortest piercing time and maximum acceleration.
  1. Extremely economical
    1. Cutting gas can be reduced by up to 70 percent, while cutting gas pressure can be reduced by up to 60 percent.
    2. Reduced power consumption.
  1. Robust
    1. Even on uneven ground.
    2. Resistant to spatter and collisions.

Overall, Highspeed Eco enables extremely smooth and high-quality cutting process with minimal oxidation on the lower edge and minimum burr formation, even in acute angles.

 

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Fibre Laser Or CO2 Laser—Which Will Prevail?

Fibre Laser or CO2 Laser—Which Will Prevail?

Many processes in the sheet metal industry are developing rapidly. Laser cutting, for example. In this interview, Johan Elster, Bystronic’s Head of Business Unit Markets, explains where the journey is headed.

Johan Elster

Nowadays, sheet metal is cut using both fibre lasers and CO2 lasers. how will these two technologies develop?

Johan Elster (JE): Over the past few years, the fibre laser has experienced massive technological advances. We launched our first cutting system with fibre laser technology in 2010. Since then, the output power has grown six-fold. Our current top-of-the-line model, the ByStar Fiber, has an output of twelve kilowatts. This progress has also resulted in a massive expansion in the range of applications. Initially, fibre laser technology was suitable only for thin sheet metal; but today, fibre lasers can be used to cut sheet metal thicknesses of 40 mm and beyond.

READ: Laser Cutting In An 8-metre Format

For a long time, thick sheet metal was considered the domain of CO2 lasers. is this no longer true?

JE: The CO2 laser still possesses good characteristics for the cutting of thick sheet steel. It also allows good results to be achieved in terms of the price per part. Nevertheless, its market share has decreased significantly in recent years; today our sales of CO2 systems are almost negligible.

So, fiber lasers are now the preferred solution for many sheet metal processing companies. what is the key to the success of fiber laser technology?

JE: Fibre lasers achieve up to five times higher cutting speeds than CO2 lasers and exhibit three times the energy efficiency. The operating and maintenance costs are also considerably lower. The fibre laser offers highest cutting speeds, an attractive cost-performance ratio, high cutting quality, and increased flexibility.

READ: Bystronic On Flexible Automation

Flexibility as a competitive advantage?

JE: Absolutely. Around 70 to 80 percent of our customers are job shops that do not produce any products of their own. They must be prepared to deal with a broad spectrum of orders. Manufacturing a wide variety of parts at the lowest possible cost and in the desired quality is what their business is all about. Fibre lasers make this possible. The ByStar Fiber cuts stainless steel, aluminium, non-ferrous metals, mild steel—and all of these from the thin to thick range of material.

High-performance fiber lasers are all-rounders; what are the most important criteria when selecting their power output?

JE: The criteria vary from customer to customer. Companies that primarily cut thin sheet metal can usually get by with three, four, or six kilowatts. Users that frequently cut in the medium range, for example mild steel between 6 and 15 mm, and want to use nitrogen as the cutting gas, are optimally served with ten or twelve kilowatts. For large companies, the output of the laser is obviously the most important factor for the efficient processing of large batches. Here, the higher output has a significant effect on both speed and profitability.

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What does the higher cutting speed mean for the overall production chain?

JE: In fact, the challenge with the latest generation of fiber lasers is to keep up with the loading and unloading. Hence, as a general rule, it makes sense to combine fiber lasers with an automation system. Our ‘ByTrans Extended’ and ‘ByTrans Cross’ loading and unloading systems take automation to the next level. Many small and medium-sized companies are currently in the process of progressively automating their production processes. We are experiencing an increased demand, in particular for sorting solutions. Nowadays, our customers no longer want to sort manually. For this, we offer our highly flexible BySort solution.

What can customers who want to increase their level of automation expect from Bystronic?

JE: As a general rule, our customers have a great deal of expertise in their core processes. We can help identify customer-specific bottlenecks: For example, we can find out where time is being wasted or where there is potential for improvement. This requires all the processes to be analyzed. We build on this and show what options are available to customers to optimize their production processes. Frequently, our customers are interested in compact cells that combine efficiency and flexibility. Accordingly, our solutions are configurable – not only in terms of hardware, but also with regard to software.

READ: Sustainable Manufacturing Thanks To Fiber Lasers And Automation

How can companies digitalise their production?

JE: This must be implemented step by step. Nowadays many suppliers offer a range of processes: cutting, bending, welding, etc. Regardless of how many processes are involved, it is possible to digitalize. We can help network our customers’ production environments in a gradual and process-specific manner using suitable software solutions.

What is the role of laser cutting in the context of Industry 4.0?

JE: Laser cutting is just one building block in a smart factory. Intelligent and networked production encompasses all the processes of a sheet metal processing company, in particular also those upstream and downstream of the production process: calculations, the preparation of offers, production planning, etc. A manufacturing execution system (MES) controls the production line. This enables production processes to be optimized fully automatically by comprehensively evaluating the data generated during the individual processes and optimizing the processes for the following orders.

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There are hurdles that must be overcome on the path towards networked production—which of these is the most challenging?

JE: Since with regard to interfaces, our industry does not have the kind of standards as those found in the IT world, the integration of a variety of different machines into a networked system is very challenging. As a result, the process flow of each individual customer must be taken into consideration.

Bystronic is the only supplier that also integrates third-party machines. what are the reasons for this decision?

JE: We are convinced: The customer wants to be able to pick and choose the best solutions. In our view, suppliers that only integrate their proprietary products are following an outdated approach. For example, no supplier’s portfolio currently includes paint finishing systems. But it is precisely this process step that many customers also want to integrate. What is more, our customers generally already have machines that they wish to integrate into an overall system. This is why it is clear to us: Optimizing a production environment and achieving a higher level of overall efficiency requires not only expertise, but above all openness.

 

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

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

In collaboration with NUM Taiwan, the Taiwanese laser machine manufacturer Legend Laser, Inc., has developed a unique multi-axis system for the precision cutting of thin sheet metal parts. Based on NUM’s latest-generation Flexium+ CNC platform, the system combines high dynamic performance linear motors with a pulsed fibre laser, and is expressly designed for 24/7 operation in a standard production environment.

Legend Laser’s new SRC-610 precision sheet metal cutter is a 3-axis system with a working area of 1000 x 600 mm and an above-worktable clearance height of 150 mm. It is mounted on a high inertia platform, comprising a large mass solid granite base with a rigid metal frame. To ensure smooth, burr-free cutting and to prevent any heat-induced deformation of thin metal workpieces, the power output of the pulsed fibre laser is fully synchronised to the cutting operation. The laser has a peak output power of 1.5 kW and can cut sheet metal with a thickness of between 20 µm (0.02 mm) and 1000 µm (1 mm), at speeds ranging from a few millimetres per second to a hundred millimetres per second.

In addition to sheet metal, the SRC-610 is also suitable for cutting and drilling ceramic and sapphire plate. Thanks to the system’s high dynamic performance and continuously variable laser power level, it is capable of exceptional cutting precision – to within just plus/minus 10 microns (10 µm or 0.01 mm).

The X and Y axes of the system – which control the lateral movement of the sheet metal workpiece and the laser cutting head respectively – are capable of very fast acceleration/deceleration and ultra-precise positioning. Both axes employ linear induction motors, driven by NUM’s NUMDrive X servo amplifiers.

The Z axis, which controls the vertical height of the laser cutting head and thus the gap between it and the workpiece, uses a NUM BHX series AC brushless servomotor and a third NUMDrive X servo amplifier. The gap is controlled very accurately during the entire cutting process, through use of a unique ‘Dynamic Operator’ (DO) function in NUM’s Flexium software. This employs special fast calculation and communication facilities which enable event-driven machine cycles to be integrated into the real-time CNC kernel.

According to Sherman Kuo, President of Legend Laser, “NUM is now our CNC provider of choice. Its open architecture CNC platforms simplify system integration, while its willingness to actively collaborate in joint machine development projects such as this helps to shorten our time to market significantly”.

Locally placed technical support is also an important factor, as Adrian Kiener, CSO Asia and Managing Director of NUM Taiwan, points out: “Legend Laser’s HQ is only about 150 km from NUM’s offices in Taichung City. By offering direct access to the CNC experts and development facilities we have here, as well as in Switzerland and other strategic locations around the world, we can provide a very fast and supportive service to companies in Taiwan and other countries in Asia”.

NUM is supplying Legend Laser with a complete CNC solution for its SRC-610 precision sheet metal laser cutting system. In addition to the Flexium+ 8 CNC system and NUMDrive X servo amplifiers, this includes a custom HMI (human-machine interface) that is dedicated to laser cutting, a PLC, a fully developed part program and system commissioning.

 

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