12 kW fibre laser exceeds expectations

The most powerful flat-bed laser-profiling centre ever to be installed in the UK for processing sheet metal has started operation at subcontractor ESP Laser Cutting, a specialist in producing components from 3 x 1.5 m sheet in an array of materials to a thickness of 30 mm. ESP’s investment follows the development of a 12 kW fibre laser source by Bystronic, which has delivered a machine of that power, a ByStar Fiber 3015 to the contract machinist’s factory in Rotherham.

Delivering one-fifth more energy to the metal sheet than the previous most powerful fibre laser (10 kW), the new source was expected to be 20% faster at cutting. What ESP’s joint owners Steve McMillan and Paul Short actually experience is a typical productivity increase of 33%.
For processing one particular job, chain links from 10 mm mild steel sheet, a three-fold productivity improvement was gained on the 12 kW machine. When formerly profiling the parts on the ByStar Fiber 10 kW machine that is still in use at the Rotherham facility, 200 components per hour was the maximum output, as there was not sufficient laser power to employ nitrogen as the assist gas. Instead, oxygen had to be used, requiring the cutting speed to be reduced so that acceptable edge quality could be achieved.
By contrast, the 12 kW machine produces 600 parts per hour, as the higher power allows the use of nitrogen and hence full profiling speed. There is the added advantage that cut edges are better, especially on the underside of the sheet, than when formerly using ‘active’ oxygen, as ‘inert’ nitrogen does not react with the sheet material. ESP employs a profiling speed of 6900 mm/min when producing the chain links, although the machine is capable of 150 m/min on thin gauges.
For further information www.bystronic.co.uk