Optimise cutting with Esab digital solutions

To help fabricators and manufacturers drive continuous improvement in traceability, documentation, asset management, productivity and quality, Esab has revealed its newly developed Digital Solutions platform.

Esab Digital Solutions, including Esab WeldCloud and Esab CutCloud, is able to connect digital ecosystems for manual/robotic/automated welding and cutting automation, respectively.
The platform was officially demonstrated for the first time at the recent EuroBLECH 2018 exhibition in Germany, where it was powered by Microsoft Azure IoT and utilised the ThingWorx Industrial Innovation Platform from PTC.
“We collaborated with Microsoft because Azure allows for a reliable and secure architecture that sends data from a digitally connected system, directly to the cloud,” says Mike Pantaleano, VP data driven advantage/digital solutions, Esab. “Eliminating the need for an on-site server or large IT infrastructure especially helps job shops and smaller operations gain the benefits of data management. Our reference architecture using ThingWorx also allows for on-site and hybrid (on-site/cloud) configurations, enabling us to configure and scale a connected solution for companies of all sizes. The right digital solution lets customers focus on improving their core business activities.”
Without formal data analysis programs, welding and cutting operations tend to over-estimate equipment utilisation rates and under-estimate actual arc-on time when quoting products.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” states Pantaleano. “Some welding operations think they’re at 30 to 40% OEE when they’re actually in the mid-teens. The applications and dashboards that are part of Esab Digital Solutions enable customers to assess their current situation at a glance and then start building baseline numbers. Once they determine what their ‘steady state’ is, they can identify areas for improvement.”
For further information www.esab.co.uk

90% faster laser cutting

Amada is making its new Clean Fast Cut (CFC) technology available as standard on the company’s 6 and 9 kW fibre laser cutting machines.

CFC is said to be up to 90% faster than standard Clean Cut (CC) and can use less nitrogen when cutting 8 mm stainless steel, for example. The technology was developed at Amada’s R&D centres in Japan and has been tested at the company’s European Laser Technical Centre near Munich.
The gains stem from a new design of cutting nozzle that optimises gas flow dynamics, and the company’s own fibre laser engine with 3 kW diode modules – said to be the largest in the industry.
CFC is capable of delivering benefits to general subcontractors that cut mid-thickness stainless steel and mild steel, as the higher cutting speeds and lower gas consumption give a reduced cost-per-part. Manufacturers needing to weld or paint parts after processing will also enjoy advantages as there is no need to clean the edges, which is necessary when using oxygen to cut mild steel. Food, marine, medical and chemical plant equipment producers will benefit too, thanks to higher productivity in stainless steel processing.
On a 9 kW Amada fibre laser, CFC is effective on stainless steel from 4 to 15 mm thick and mild steel from 4 to 12 mm, while on a 6 kW machine the technology will produce gains on stainless steel from 4 to 12 mm and mild steel from 4 to 8 mm. Below 4 mm thickness, Amada says that its standard CC is very productive. Importantly, CFC is not an optional extra and is shipping now as standard with newly ordered Amada 6 and 9 kW fibre laser machines.
For further information www.amada.co.uk

Waterjet cuts costs at valve specialist

Hobbs Precision Engineering, a subcontract machining business that primarily manufactures components for Hobbs Valve, has recently invested in an Optima 320 twin head waterjet machine from Kerf Developments.

Revealing why the company opted for a waterjet machine, Hobbs Precision Engineering’s machine shop manager Craig Llywellyn says: “We identified that we could produce over 1500 clamp-ring parts in-house every year, something that would reduce our subcontract reliance, valve unit costs and improve overall production scheduling and lead-times – and waterjet was the only feasible option. Laser or plasma cutting would introduce heat, which would impact the properties and conformity of our parts. We investigated the options and the Kerf Optima 320 had the best build quality, software, productivity performance and value for our business.”
The clamp-ring components are manufactured from aluminium bronze and a range of stainless steels that vary from 316 to super duplex, with dimensions from 50 to 1200 mm diameter, in thicknesses from 4 to 12 mm.
“By bringing the production of clamp-ring parts in-house, we have reduced our subcontracting costs by over £30,000 per year,” says Llywellyn. “Furthermore, we have gained greater control over our processes and quality, while reducing the lead-time for these parts from four weeks to just one day. Triple offset butterfly valves are bespoke products that are not volume manufactured, so the ability to stock material and produce clamp rings when required gives us the flexibility and reaction time required for components which are produced in volumes from 1 to 10-off.”
Hobbs Precision Engineering has also applied the machine to the production of end plates for the butterfly valves, a move which has reduced subcontracting costs by an additional £20,000 per annum.
For further information www.kerfdevelopments.com

Mazak lasers and automation solutions on show

Yamazaki Mazak took five laser cutting machines and two automation solutions to the recent EuroBLECH 2018 exhibition in Hanover, Germany. The standout machine was a new model of the Optiplex 3015 6 kW DDL (Direct Diode Laser) laser profiling machine. Mazak says that the resonator enables fast cutting of stainless steel and aluminium, and is up to 15% faster than its 6kW fibre equivalent. Most importantly, the DDL machine delivers stable cutting for both thin and thick material due to the use of ‘Beam Diameter Control’ technology, along with intelligent monitoring andset-up functions.

Alongside the DDL was the FG-220 DDL 4kW, a new DDL version of the company’s tube and pipe cutting machines. The machine is designed for maximum productivity utilising high-speed approach piercing to improve cutting speeds on both thin and medium-thick material by up to 20% compared with CO2 lasers.

Also, on the stand were 10 and 8kW versions of the Optiplex Fiber III laser. Of note, the 8 kW version was equipped with a Mazak Smart Cell automation system, developed to complement machines in the Mazak laser portfolio.

The Smart Cell system has a compact layout along with an ergonomic design for improved access and ease of operation. The automation cell can be programmed offline and, when in operation, offers detailed reporting of production status and operation, automatic parts separation detection and dynamic kinetics to calculate weight and optimise speed.Most importantly, Smart Cell offers an Industry 4.0-ready solution for laser users.

The final machine on the stand was a 6kW Optiplex Nexus 3015 Fiber, equipped with a Fasani CST automation system.
For further information www.mazakeu.co.uk

Laser texturing software boosts productivity

Significantly greater productivity, ranging from 20-40% depending on the specific application, as well as improved quality, are among the advantages reported by early adopters of GF Machining Solutions’ latest generation of GF Laser Workstation Software.
Furthermore, initial results indicate that customers using the optional software suite supplied with Smartpatch technology, can increase texturing speeds by up to 30%.

These improvements in efficiency and quality are a direct result of the process intelligence that has been engineered into GF Laser Workstation Software 1.8.0’s Smartpatch technology, a patching solution that will enable laser texturing to become a more widely-used manufacturing process.

Laser texturing can be used to apply a myriad of different decorative and functional textures to workpieces by using a laser beam to remove workpiece material layer by layer via a non-polluting, and non-contact process.

The technology is proven to be a sustainable way of applying high quality textures, including complex geometries, to high repeatability, because the process is fully digital. This means that virtually any design, in a digital format, can easily be applied to a 3D workpiece surface.
Furthermore, since the cutting tool used in texturing is a laser beam, issues such as tool wear and breakage are avoided, and mean that laser texturing is a reliable, cost-effective and secure process.

However, challenges do exist with the technology and it is these that GF Machining Solutions has sought to address with its Smartpatch Technology.
For further information www.gfms.com/uk