Here’s the technology you need for optimal cutting of a broad range of tubular materials and shapes. Article by Trumpf.
Because of their diverse shapes and materials, tubes and profiles can be used with great flexibility—from fitness equipment to furniture to agricultural machinery.
Conventional tube fabricators uses a variety of methods like sawing, lathe cutting, rotary cutting, supported shear cutting, and milling to cut tubes from long lengths into shorter pieces for variable parts and welded together for the final fabrication. No single method is optimal for cutting the broad range of tubular materials and shapes produced by this industry.
The most important areas of application:
Machine and device construction
Scaffolding and platform construction
Sports and fitness equipment
Innovative Tube Design
The laser cutting of tubes offers you new tube design possibilities, which would not have been possible with conventional methods. Because of this, the following production steps are also reduced. Using the laser, you simplify welding fixtures and, therefore, lower the welding costs. Positioning aids with tabs and holes make component assembly easier and coding aids prevent assembly errors.
Advantages include product cost reduction, new product design, process simplification, lower organizational effort, shorter response times, simplification and optimization of parts, and reduction of downstream working steps.
Simple tube designs for connections reduce your work because the parts can be optimally cut for the subsequent joining processes, even without the bevel cut.
Advantages include optimal material utilization/saving, e.g. using the common cut; simplified joining; and less work, because of optimal cutting for the subsequent joining process.
Corner Connections with Bevel Cut
Thanks to the high-quality bevel cut up to 45 deg, besides getting optimal material utilization and a reduction of work when cutting corner connections, you also get a greater part spectrum and aesthetic benefits in production and processing. Scribing of the material is often no longer necessary.
Adapted protective films are essential for the productivity of laser cutting machines. In this article, Abdelrazak Kerbal of Novacel explains why.
Since the beginning of laser cutting technology, the metal sheets preserved by a protective film faced difficulties while being cut. With the latest generation of machines with fiber laser technology, the cutting process was even more complicated. Indeed, because of their wavelength, fiber laser machines could not safely cut the sheets laminated with a standard protective film.
To overcome this difficulty, manufacturers had to burn or to remove the protective films covering the sheets before proceeding with cutting. This practice tends to increase both the production time due to this double cutting pass and the wastage of material due to the sparkles or tools marks.
In addition, the thermal effects of cutting with the flow of assist gas could hinder the smooth running of the process. Indeed, during laser cutting, the film undergoes the heating on the affected zone and tends to soften. This phenomenon, coupled with the diffusion of the high-pressurized cutting gas, can generate bubbles. These bubbles represent areas where the film is no longer sticking to the sheet and are therefore points of weakness in the protection.
Sometimes, dark marks may appear around the cut edges because of the carbon black from the black/white films burnt. In some cases, users must remove non-performing protective films in order to be able to work properly with their machine.
To overcome all these problems and to guarantee a surface protection without interfering with the smooth running of the process, Novacel has been offering protective films specifically designed for laser cutting for over 20 years now.
In fact, Novacel’s range of protective films for laser cutting are developed in partnership with the leading laser cutting machines manufacturers and compatible with all the laser technologies currently used for cutting metals. As the main customers of the company are large metallurgy groups, Novacel products are also widely used by the big names in household appliances, construction and decoration materials, and furniture, which have to present surfaces to the final consumer free from any imperfections, scratches or soiling.
Appropriate Protective Film to Enhance Efficiency and Quality in Laser Cutting
Adapted protective films are essential for the productivity of laser cutting machines. The choice of a protective film depends upon the laser cutting technology used, the protected materials, the sub processes and the industrial segments of application. Thickness of the film, adhesive material used and adhesion level are key parameters for successfully selecting an adapted protective film.
LVD Company nv introduces the Strippit PL Punch-Laser combination, a machine that combines the punching and forming advantages of the Strippit PX or V Series punch press with the speed and versatility of fiber laser cutting to complete multiple processes on a single machine, answering the need for flexible manufacturing. Three punch-laser models are available: the single-head style Strippit PX 1530-L and Strippit V 1530-L in thick- and thin-turret configurations.
Small batches, short lead times, increasingly complex parts drive the need for flexible manufacturing. Strippit PL offers two technologies in one machine for more versatility than single-process equipment. Strippit PL can laser cut intricate shapes and process materials up to 10 mm, efficiently punch holes up to 6.35 mm, produce forms and bends up to 90 mm in length and up to 75 mm high on the Strippit PX 1530-L.
Combination technology offers complete part processing. The punch press handles high-speed punching and forming operations. The fiber laser delivers high-quality cutting of outer contours, intricate inner contours and can be used for material etching.
The combination of technologies eliminates processes, can improve part quality, reduces production time and material handling, and lowers the cost per part in both small lot sizes and high production runs.
In 1978, Strippit brought punch-laser technology to sheet metal fabrication. Today, a combination machine is more practical than ever because of advances in laser cutting and punching technology.
The solid-state fiber laser has minimal components, offers high cutting speed, and low-maintenance costs making cutting operations faster, more accurate and cost-effective. Strippit PL is offered with a 3 kW or 4 kW fiber laser source.
The Strippit PX single-head 20-ton punch press can punch, form, bend and tap, forming flanges up to 75 mm high, countersinking and scribing with top productivity. Twenty indexable tool stations hold any size tool, up to a maximum tool diameter of 90 mm.
The Strippit V thick-turret model features a versatile 48-station turret. The Strippit V thin-turret configuration has a 40-station turret. Both 30-ton machines are equipped with four programmable 88.9 mm indexable stations and are designed to handle high tonnage applications.
Following the postponement of EuroBLECH 2020, LVD announces plans for a series of Virtual Technology Events and Technology Days to be held September through November 2020 to launch and showcase new laser cutting, bending and punch press products for the sheet metalworking market.
LVD Technology Events will spotlight products originally planned to debut at EuroBLECH and will offer a combination of virtual events and in-person Technology Days at its Experience Center in Gullegem, Belgium.
Both the virtual and onsite events will give attendees an in-depth look at LVD’s latest advancements. The Virtual Tech Events will provide full product demonstrations, informational sessions on various metal fabricating technology and industry trends, and offer a platform for information sharing, as you would expect at a physical trade show. Technology Days at the LVD XP Center will take place with significantly smaller groups and with increased safety measures in place.
EuroBLECH, the world’s largest sheet metalworking exhibition, has been postponed to March 2021 in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“Without strong confidence that health and safety guidelines can be maintained in a large tradeshow setting such as EuroBLECH, we need new ways to connect with fabricators to help them discover new technologies,” said LVD CCO, Francis De Bie.
“As we adapt to the ‘new normal,’ it’s more important than ever to help companies build more flexible and resilient businesses.”
Dates and additional details for LVD Technology Events will be announced in early August.
TRUMPF has announced a close business cooperation between TRUMPF Laser- und Systemtechnik GmbH and SPI Lasers UK Ltd., which are both wholly owned subsidiaries of the TRUMPF Group. TRUMPF Laser- und Systemtechnik GmbH will combine the business operations of SPI Lasers UK Ltd. to bring advantages in industrial applications via both disk and fiber technology and enhance customer service offerings. As of the 1st July SPI Lasers products will begin to be available via the TRUMPF sales channels.
SPI Lasers UK Ltd. has been a wholly owned subsidiary of the TRUMPF Group since 2008, quickly establishing themselves within the group as experts in the field of fiber laser design and manufacture. With fiber lasers becoming important laser sources for material processing, both companies agree that “joining forces and integrating SPI Lasers into TRUMPF is a sensible move for both companies and, more importantly one that will be extremely beneficial for our customers”.
This value-enhancing step ensures that SPI customers will benefit not just from high quality fiber laser products but also first-class standards of customer service. In addition, both companies are expecting synergy effects and an improved cost structure, e.g. in R&D.
The relevant steps are expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2020.
LVD introduces MOVit, a comprehensive range of automation systems, including new TAS (Tower Automation System) and WAS (Warehouse Automation System) options for LVD Phoenix and Electra laser cutting machines. MOVit systems also include LVD’s Compact Tower (CT-L), Flexible Automation (FA-L) and Load-Assist (LA).
New tower & warehouse systems
MOVit TAS is a single or double tower storage system that can be integrated with up to two laser cutting machines. This tower system offers 16 different configurations available for 3015, 4020 and 6020 laser machine formats.
MOVit WAS offers a custom number of towers beginning at a minimum of three towers, in single or double row configurations. Each pallet has a capacity of three or five tons and a stack height of 90 mm. Multiple laser cutting machines can be connected to the system using integrated load/unload devices. Output stations can be added to WAS to deliver cut sheets to a sorting area or sorted parts to other machines such as press brakes. WAS is available for 3015 and 4020 laser machine formats.
Both TAS and WAS offer the option for unloading directly on the machine/s. Cut sheets are unloaded on a third table where parts can be sorted and made available for additional processing.
The automation systems feature highly customisable configurations. They are designed to keep material flow continuous, production uninterrupted, and sheets and parts organised efficiently. The standard TAS and WAS configurations allow for full lights-out production as finished sheets are returned to available storage.
AMADA WELD TECH, formerly AMADA MIYACHI EUROPE has announced its new company name, effective April 1, 2020. This name change will allow the company to present themselves as an AMADA group company with the highest experience in welding and associated precision technologies.
The new name will soon appear on all mailings, invoices, packaging, and other promotional materials.
The company itself remains the same, simply under a new name. The same commitment to customers, products, quality of service, and employees will continue unchanged. The extensive range of equipment and systems in Laser Welding, Laser Marking, Laser Cutting, Resistance Welding, Hermetic Sealing and Hot Bar Reflow Soldering & Bonding will remain at the highest quality that our customers have come to know and expect.
AMADA WELD TECH requests that customers update records accordingly and address all future business correspondence to the new name, AMADA WELD TECH.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Productivity and feed speed increased by up to 100 percent.
Shortest piercing time and maximum acceleration.
Cutting gas can be reduced by up to 70 percent, while cutting gas pressure can be reduced by up to 60 percent.
Reduced power consumption.
Even on uneven ground.
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.
Laser technology has been the method of choice in sheet metal processing for many years. The laser delivers first-class cutting results regardless of the type and thickness of the material. In laser cutting, process gases play an important role in cutting quality. The desired results can only be achieved if the quality of the cutting gas remains constant. AMADA GmbH achieves optimum process results by equipping its machines with WITT gas mixers.
High-quality process gases are used for consistent, first-class cutting results. The cutting gas or a cutting gas mixture is supplied to the cutting process via a nozzle system. This shields the cutting area from negative influences from the ambient air, and also expels molten material is expelled from the cut.
AMADA prefers a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen for cutting certain materials. The nitrogen serves as a flushing gas and at the same time has the function of cooling the surroundings of the laser beam; the oxygen in turn promotes the actual cutting process.
“For the quality of the cutting image, it is extremely important to supply the laser constantly with a very pure cutting gas or a precisely dosed gas mixture. Gas mixers from WITT offer the high quality and reliability required for our applications,” explains Axel Willuhn, Product Manager Punching and Laser Technology at AMADA GmbH.
Depending on size requirements, models from the WITT KM and MG product series are used. The gas mixers work with mechanical proportional mixing valves – a process that delivers high-precision gas mixtures, has long-term stability and is extremely robust at the same time.
WITT gas mixers with this mixing principle have been used in laser technology for many years. In addition to mixers for the production of process gases, WITT also successfully supplies mixers for the production of laser gas in CO2 laser systems to this industry.