Active Speed Control delivers gains

Trumpf says it has set a milestone on the road to autonomous machining: Active Speed Control.

With this newly developed feature, the system looks straight through the nozzle right at the cutting zone, monitoring it in real-time and autonomously controlling the feed rate of solid-state laser machines. Active Speed Control ensures a more reliable process for both flame and fusion cutting, reducing scrap and saving on rework, while also responding immediately to any changes in the material being processed.
The system allows users to achieve tangible gains in productivity with their machines, lowering part manufacturing costs. Active Speed Control monitors numerous different process parameters. One example is the position of the laser beam in relation to the centre of the nozzle during the entire cutting process. The system informs the operator of any deviations, helping to avoid scrap. Additional functions for automated laser cutting can easily be added to the system in the future thanks to the software update feature.
Examining the kerf reveals all sorts of information about part quality and process stability. The easier it is for the molten material to escape from the kerf, the smoother the cutting process. Active Speed Control keeps a careful eye on this flow of molten material in mild and stainless steel plates that are greater than or equal to 4 mm thick.
The sensor system looks through the nozzle to observe the radiation that is emitted as the material melts. This ‘process radiation’ allows the system to determine whether the molten material is emerging as planned, to identify the fastest possible feed rate and to make any necessary adjustments – a process it repeats many hundreds of times a second.
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Anything but run of the mill

Paul King is a man who knows what he wants and, when it came to specifying a new fibre laser, he knew he wanted automation. “I’ve always been a believer in automation, pushing to run machines lights-out wherever possible,” he says. “I don’t understand why more laser users aren’t using it.”

Founded in 1978 and inspired by its motto, ‘From Concept to Creation,’ CSM specialises in the manufacture and supply of sheet metal parts into a wide range of commercial and retail products on a subcontract basis.
Like many, King was a CO2 laser user, but, after 18 years, was keen to investigate fibre-laser technology. However, any new solution also had to take into account the logistics of the company’s Swansey Mill layout.
“We operate from a former cotton mill, so it is hard to accommodate a large laser machine because of the type of building, with all of the columns that are in the way,” says King. “Laser machines lend themselves to big, sprawling factories, so while the easy option is often to buy another machine, the footprint doesn’t always suit the space you’re trying to exploit. So, my first thought was – what fits the space?”
Requiring a solution that would meet CSM’s footprint, technology and capacity demands, King contacted Yamazaki Mazak to see what could be offered. Mazak suggested an Optiplex Nexus 3015 Fiber 4 kW laser machine with bespoke 10-shelf automation towers.
“What really won me over was that Mazak’s technical team was very accommodating, providing constant dialogue and feedback whilst configuring the system’s layout,” says King. “They were able to make it fit my space and, more than anything, they didn’t compromise the efficiencies I was getting with existing machines.”
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CGTech office

CGTech has opened a new office based in Gloucestershire as a result of ongoing business success.

The office is situated next to SGS Berkley Green UTC, and forms part of the cyber security and digital centre buildings. Gavin Powell, technical support manager, says: “We understand the importance of delivering and maintaining an exceptional level of support for our customers. The opening of this office will provide us with a central hub for support, additional training facilities and a great opportunity to strengthen and grow our technical team.”
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Lasers for the mainstream market

The latest high-power fibre-laser cutting machines from Amada, the ENSIS-AJ 6 and 9 kW, are aimed at any manufacturer needing fast piercing and cutting across a range of materials.

These high-power fibre lasers offer a host of specially developed technologies designed to overcome common laser-cutting challenges. Ease-of-use, reliability and a high level of modular automation options also feature.
Core to the advanced capability of ENSIS-AJ highpower fibre lasers is Amada’s ‘Variable Beam Control’ technology, whereby the laser beam is automatically adapted to deliver stable cutting across all material types and thicknesses. Variable Beam Control can also change instantly between a high-power density beam for piercing and a high-speed, high-quality beam for cutting, thus reducing cycle time. Regarding set-up times, only a single lens is required to process thin-to-thick materials, helping to maximise machine uptime and eliminate costly operator errors.
The company’s Auto Collimation technology is a further stand-out feature of the machines as it delivers beam diameter and focus-point control for high cutting speeds and surface quality, reducing the need for secondary finishing operations. Auto Collimation also produces a wider cut kerf on thicker materials, making for easier part removal from the sheet to reduce handling time.
“By combining our proven Variable Beam Control technology, which we have used since 2014, with our Auto Collimation technology, the high-power ENSIS models give new and existing customers a significant advantage in a competitive market,” says Matt Wood, senior product manager at Amada Europe. “In fact, 25 mm mild steel can be pierced in as little as 1 second on the 9 kW version, saving significant processing time.”
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Quickgrind grows UK support team

The team at Quickgrind has expanded with the appointment of Mark Aspinall, who joins the cutting-tool manufacturer as its new technical support manager for the northwest.

Aspinall has more than 30 years of manufacturing experience, moving from an apprentice toolmaker and CNC machinist, through manufacturing engineering and leadership roles with prominent aerospace manufacturers like BAE Systems and Safran Nacelles. For the past three years Aspinall has put this experience into training apprentices at Training 2000 Ltd.
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