Fibre laser 10 times faster on 10 mm sheet

Established in 2010 by Dave Mawer and Mike Barratt, D&M Design & Fabrication has seen dramatic progression since the joint owners started running the business from the former’s bedroom and the latter’s garage.

At the time, neither thought that seven years later they would buy one of the most advanced fibre laser cutting centres on the market, a Bystronic 10 kW ByStar Fiber with automated sheet handling.
Installed at one of the firm’s factory units in Kirkby Malzeard, near Ripon, the machine is capable of processing 3 x 1.5 m sheet and employs the highest power fibre laser currently available on a cutting machine. According to Barratt, it is about 10 times faster at processing 10 mm thick material than D&M’s previous Bystronic 3.3 kW CO2 fibre laser machine bought five years earlier. A sheet can be completed typically in less than 40 minutes, rather than six hours.
“We were previously struggling to keep up with laser profiling our material, despite running the CO2 machine around the clock, six days a week,” says Barratt. “With the speed of fibre technology, we are easily processing more material per day in a single shift and now only work five days a week. The fibre machine stands idle for some of the time at present, as it finishes all the work going through the shop so quickly.”
Mawer adds: “With an eye to the future, we specified the machine with an inline ByTrans Extended handling system to automate the supply of material to the machine and the return of laser-cut sheets. We have proved the cell’s reliability during lights-out running a few times. It is not needed at the moment, but will be invaluable as volumes build in the future.”
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Fastest plasma-cutting speed in its class

Esab has released its Cutmaster 60i hand-held air plasma-cutting system, a three-phase, 400 V unit that weighs 16.8 kg and provides a rated output of 7.6 kW at 50% duty cycle (at 60 A).

Cutmaster 60i produces a recommended cut of 16 mm, has a maximum sever thickness of 38 mm and, according to Esab, provides the fastest cutting speed (at any thickness) in its class.
Esab says that users will immediately notice the oversized, high-visibility LED display on the Cutmaster 60i, which communicates more information, more clearly, at a glance and from a distance. The display provides the necessary feedback to optimise parameter settings and cut quality. Cutmaster 60i also has a best-in-class ability to hold the arc for longer, which helps when cutting in awkward positions and when performing gouging operations.
The system includes the new SL60QD 1Torch, which offers a quick disconnect feature for the selective replacement of either the torch handle assembly or torch leads at a lower cost than replacing both together (a necessity with one-piece torch/lead assemblies). Moreover, integral gas-optimiser technology helps ensure premium cut quality and performance by precisely regulating air pressure; although users can also adjust the gas pressure manually. When users set amperage, mode of operation, torch type, and add torch lengths to extend cutting reach by an additional 7.6, 15.2 or 22.9 m, the machine uses its colour display to provide recommended gas-pressure settings.
Low amperage especially benefits small shops and garage users as they might not have a large breaker like an industrial facility.
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Automated storage supports laser facility

De Cromvoirtse, a Netherlands-based steel stockholder and contract manufacturer of small batches of semi-finished sheet metal components, has invested in two interlinked, automated storage systems from Kasto and connected them to three laser-cutting machines to help speed deliveries.

The Uniline store and Unitower B ensure fast, accurate, damage-free material handling, while the supplier’s warehouse management system keeps track of stock and ensures smooth order processing.
Manufacturing capacity at De Cromvoirtse includes press brakes in addition to the laser-cutting machines. About 90% of products are made from steel, stainless steel or aluminium sheet, the remainder being
pipes and sections.
The double-sided Uniline store from Kasto has nearly 1000 storage locations, with special pallets for different materials and sizes, as well as for remnants. A stacker crane travels between the two rows of the facility, storing and retrieving material automatically as needed.
“Kasto worked with us right from the planning phase to develop new ideas for the design,” says Janwillem Verschuuren, one of the company’s two managing directors. “They told us clearly what wouldn’t work, and
what would.”
For example, it proved possible to connect two flat-bed laser-cutting machines seamlessly to achieve continuous material flow.
The latest Unitower B storage system, which was installed in a few weeks without interrupting the stockholder’s operations, consists of a double tower and stacker crane. Rising to a height of 8.5 m and with a compact footprint, it has space for almost 80 pallets, each of which can hold sheets measuring up to 3000 x 1500 mm. An additional laser-cutting machine is connected to the Unitower, with loading and unloading being performed automatically.
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Twice the cutting speed

Higher cutting speed equals higher laser power. This formula has been more than just a rule of thumb, but Trumpf engineers have now severed the correlation between speed and kilowatts.

The fruit of their labour? The Highspeed and Highspeed Eco cutting processes.
A newly designed nozzle boosts the feed rate by up to 100% for solid-state laser machines that employ fusion cutting with nitrogen. What’s more, laser power does not need to be increased. Not only is the feed rate now faster, but also the piercing process. These new cutting operations also allow for nearly a two-fold increase in sheet throughput compared with standard cutting, says the company, while less cutting gas is used thanks to the nozzle’s design. The Highspeed process requires 40% less nitrogen on average, with the Highspeed Eco 70% less.
In fusion cutting, gas under relatively high pressure blows molten material out of the kerf, which entails high operating costs. Flame cutting using oxygen has traditionally been used for mild steel, especially for relatively thick sheets. The advantage of low gas costs is offset by oxidised cut edges, which often need to be reworked.
Trumpf’s new Highspeed and Highspeed Eco processes, by contrast, are faster and use less gas, which greatly increases the cost efficiency of fusion-cutting mild steel with nitrogen. In addition, the scope of application is today broader for 8 kW lasers used in fusion cutting. The laser can now cut sheets as thick as 12 mm, instead of just 10 mm as in the past.
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Gratnells invests in latest laser technology

Gratnells Engineering has recently invested in a new BLM LT Fiber machine, allowing the Harlow-based company to expand its capabilities and ensure clients benefit from even faster turnaround times.

This brand-new machine sits next to the existing LT5, a laser tube-cutting machine designed to cut from small-to-medium diameters and thicknesses of metal tubular sections. Gratnells’ new LT Fiber allows tubes of any shape to be cut, as well as the processing of special sections and even open shapes – without any additional special equipment required.
The laser-cutting range boasts an automated unloading and support system for pre-cut lengths up to 6100 mm, automatic weld seam detection, and a module that maintains the cleanliness of the internal tube surface when machining. Anti-crush technology makes the machine capable of processing even the lightest of tubes without deforming the walls.
BLM’s LT Fiber machine is already helping to increase factory efficiency by allowing unloading to various positions, with finished parts from one machine being unloaded while production continues uninterrupted on the other. The need to manually separate parts from different orders has also now been eliminated.
Loic Jones, operations director, says: “Gratnells Engineering decided to invest in state-of-the-art laser technology to enable us to offer fast production runs with the best quality finish. This substantial investment will allow us to continually support the ever-demanding needs of modern manufacturing clients”.
The Gratnells Engineering factory can turn around tube laser-cutting jobs within 3-5 days from receipt of order and, using sophisticated software, can process parts from a variety of media.
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