Hexagon to build €90m smart factory

Hexagon has revealed plans to invest approximately €90m in a new 52,000 m2 production facility in Hongdao, China. The new site will primarily produce metrology systems for the MI (Manufacturing Intelligence) division. There will also be office and meeting space, recreational areas for employees and a Hexagon solution centre. Construction is slated to begin this year, with completion targeted for 2020.
“The factories of the future must be flexible, modular working environments with data-driven ecosystems that embed agility and quality into every phase of the production process,” says Hexagon president and CEO Ola Rollén. “Our new facility not only will deliver high-class products and services for our customers in China and the surrounding region, but pioneer new technologies to support smart manufacturing.”
For further information www.hexagonmi.com

Revealing the future of laser technology

Trumpf presented tomorrow’s laser technology at the ‘Laser – World of Photonics’ trade fair in Munich last month.
A new beam guidance concept for ultra-short pulse lasers took centre stage. At the moment, it is technologically impossible to send ultra-short laser pulses down a flexible glass fibre to the workpiece – the laser pulse is so intense that it destroys the glass fibre. However, Trumpf has a new concept that gets around this problem and enables new ways to flexibly integrate lasers into machines and facilities.
“This is a real game-changer,” says Klaus Löffler, managing director and head of sales at Trumpf Laser und Systemtechnik GmbH. “Some 30 years ago the first laser light cable suitable for industrial use proved the breakthrough for solid-state lasers; our new beam guidance concept promises to do the same for ultra-short pulse lasers today.”
New diode laser technology was another highlight at the show. With it, Trumpf says it is laying the foundations for “green production” in industrial manufacturing. The company presented a diode laser that is not only suitable for conventional applications such as soldering, hardening and laser deposition welding, but can also handle industrial applications that require significantly higher beam quality. A clear advantage of diode laser technology is its high efficiency.
The TrumpfDira product range, specially designed for applications in the research sector, was also on display. These laser amplifiers deliver high-energy picosecond pulses combined with high repetition rates; for instance, to pump optical parametric amplifiers.
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US banker becomes UK sheet metal subcontractor

Former investment banker Troy Barratt believes passionately in promoting manufacturing in the developed world – so much so that he gave up his career in Wall Street and then the City of London to buy a subcontract sheet metal fabricating business in Sittingbourne.
In 2012 he purchased 28-year-established sheet metalworking and fabrication company, Contracts Engineering Ltd (CEL) from the previous owners, who wanted to retire. By 2016, turnover had doubled to £2 million per annum.
Part of the £600,000 invested during that time has been used to purchase a BystronicBySprint fibre laser cutting machine capable of processing sheet up to 3 x 1.5 m using a 2 kW fibre laser source. Bought in January 2017, it replaced a 3 kW CO2 laser cutter of the same sheet size capacity dating back to 2002. The new machine joins two pre-existing 100-tonne Bystronic press brakes on the shop floor and a turret punch press acquired in 2013.
“When we took over CEL, the CO2 laser machine’s utilisation rate was under 50% over an 8-hour day shift plus nearly daily overtime,” says Barratt. “We quickly moved to a double shift, 16 hours a day, put a Bystronic service contract in place, and were able to raise the time the machine was cutting to 60%. This is among the highest in the industry for subcontract manufacturers.
“Since the BySprint started operating in early February, utilisation has increased further due the machine’s reliability and efficiency features,” he continues. “We ran it 24/5 for a while to remove a backlog of work and get in front of orders, which allowed us to minimise the cost of bought-in subcontract services during the transition period.”
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Kerf cuts bright future for steel firm

Evolving from a small blacksmiths to a 1.5 acre site, John Thorburn& Sons Ltd has grown beyond recognition during its 70-year history. The family-run business that specialises in the construction, agriculture and commercial steel-working sectors has always invested in the latest technology to underpin its continuous growth. This investment strategy has now seen the Scottish company acquire a plasma-cutting machine from Kerf Developments.
To manufacture the numerous components that constitute a complete steel building structure, Duns-based John Thorburn& Sons relied upon its guillotine, punching, steel-working and fabricating equipment until the arrival of a Kerf RUR2500 plasma-cutting machine with UltraSharp technology.
“We recognised that our method of cropping, punching and drilling plates was cumbersome, time consuming and slowing down our throughput,” explains managing director John Thorburn. “All our jobs had to be handled and reworked on a variety of different machines to arrive at a finished part. Additionally, we had to stock a large range of steel bar widths and thicknesses, and this was taking a lot of floor space. Kerf has instantly eliminated all of these issues.”
The Berwickshire-based business specified the RUR2500 with a 6 x 2m bed, so it could use the nesting facility on the Kerf machine to cut up to 50 stanchion base plates in a single set-up.
The stanchion base plates that are required in considerable batches for the assembly of agricultural buildings were previously cut from 400 x 20 mm thick steel bar that was 6400 mm long. By purchasing 4 m x 2 m x 20 mm thick plates instead of bar, the company instantly reduced material costs by over 30%.
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Choosing a fibre, diode or hybrid source

LHYTE is a new technology designed for industrial laser applications that has been developed by Comau in collaboration with Prima Electro. This modular system, which is intended for both the automotive and the general manufacturing sectors, allows end users to choose a fibre, diode or hybrid laser source, thereby meeting the increasingly varied and flexible needs of the industrial sector.
The unveiling event, which was attended by OEMs, system integrators, partner companies and journalists from all over Europe, opened with a welcome speech by Tobias Daniel (head of sales and marketing for Comau Robotics and Automation Products) who introduced LHYTE technology. The technical and application advantages of this innovative solution for the industrial sector were then described by Maurizio Cremonini (Comau’s head of marketing) and Giovanni Di Stefano (Comau’s head of materials and process technologies) together with Maurizio Gattiglio, Prima Electro executive vice president – laser division (Prima Industrie Group).
Afterwards, Ulrich Thombansen, a laser technology expert from Fraunhofer ILT in Aachen, provided a general explanation of laser solutions and Comau’s latest technologies.
A technology patented by Comau, LHYTE is able to combine the potential of direct and fibre laser sources through a modular and flexible structure. The product is adaptable to any industrial application and enables Comau to meet the needs of a market in continuous evolution, in which manufacturers and system integrators are constantly in search of high-performance, versatile technologies.
For further information