Mazak launches laser automation cell

Yamazaki Mazak unveiled its latest laser automation cell at Blechexpo in Stuttgart last week. The OPTIPLEX 3015 DDL 4.0 kW laser processing machine features Direct Diode Laser technology unique to Mazak, complete with a new robotic automation system. Those requiring ultra-fast cutting and high-quality edges are set to benefit most.

According to Mazak, the OPTIPLEX DDL series can cut thin material 20% faster than fibre lasers, and thick materials with high surface quality. The machine has an axis acceleration of 1.8 G and benefits from rapid traverse rates of 120 m/min. Positioning accuracy is maintained to within ±0.05 mm per 500 mm in the X and Y axes, and to within ±0.01 mm per 100mm in the Z axis. The machine also offers repeatability accuracy of ±0.03 mm in the X, Y and Z axes.
Crucially, the OPTIPLEX DDL is a machine capable of a wall plug efficiency of 40-50%, compared with 10% for a CO2 resonator, 15-20% for a disc resonator and 30-40% with a fibre resonator.
At Blechexpo, the machine on display was shown as part of a new automation cell that incorporates a robotic arm mounted to rails adjacent to the cutting table, to load and unload workpieces. The arm can quickly change between sorting tools – which are mounted directly to the robot’s base – depending on application and the size and weight of the workpiece. To deliver fast and accurate machining, the cell’s laser table is equipped with an automatic clamp to secure the workpiece’s position on the table. This is especially useful for cutting thin vinyl-protected material.
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KME upgrades Kerf plasma cutter

Littleborough-based Ken Mills Engineering (KME) Ltd has upgraded its Kerf plasma cutting machine with a new and larger RUR2500p. Replacing its predecessor, the new RUR2500p has an 8 x 2 m bed and a more powerful and precise Lincoln Electric Spirit II 275 A plasma unit with the very latest Ultrasharp cutting technology.

Alluding to why the company replaced a machine that has delivered exceptional performance levels, director Andy Mills says: “Our components are primarily small-to-medium batches that are cut from single sheets, which rarely exceed the 4 m bed length of the previous machine. We recognised that by increasing the bed length we could load one side of the machine while parts are being cut on the other end of the bed. This pendulum loading has effectively eliminated non-productive set-up times and reduced overall production times by an additional 50%.
“The new Kerf RUR2500p has the very latest Ultrasharp cutting technology and this has improved the precision and surface finishes of the profiles and holes we cut,” he continues. “Additionally, there is less cleaning, no secondary hand finishing and less dross from the process.”
As well as offering precision levels in the ±0.5 mm range, the Lincoln Electric Spirit II plasma unit has the capacity to pierce materials up to 35 mm thick.
Concluding on the benefits of the machine acquisitions, Mills says: “In combination with a new press brake, the Kerf machine is saving us upwards of £250,000 a year in subcontract costs. Added to this, we are saving around £150,000 a year in material, and there are fewer transport costs as we don’t deal with subcontractors.”
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New team

With business rapidly growing, Master Abrasives has set up a new applications engineering team to support customers in a range of applications.

The team will focus on providing assistance to those interested in mass finishing and grinding machines, and other technical products such as precision abrasive finishing tapes and diamond grinding wheels. The applications engineering team will be led by Ian Meredith, who has many years’ experience in the bearing industry and subsequently the diamond dressing tool and abrasive industry. He will be supported by technical sales representative, Martin Stevens, and customer service team member, Kelly Warrington.
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Growth fund

Clay Cross based N&R Needham has been awarded £52,425 from the University of Derby (via its Invest to Grow fund) to invest in new machinery that will broaden its measuring capacity and allow the company to take on work that it could not have inspected previously.

Joe Needham, N&R Needham

The initial funding has already been used to purchase and install a CNC CMM. Since then, N&R Needham received further Invest to Grow funding that has been used to purchase and install a CNC turning centre, and provide training for current employees.
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Record-breaking steel supports

The William Cook group, based in Sheffield, has cast the first of up to 50 record-breaking steel supports for a flagship new viaduct to be employed by the Paris Metro system.

A cast steel column is being developed to support the 600m-long viaduct and elevated metro station in a multi-million project led by French architect Marc Mimram and the Parisian transport agency RATP. Weighing in at as much as 12 tonnes and up to 7m tall, the columns are the largest castings ever poured at William Cook’s Sheffield foundry.
A pair of full-size prototypes has already been cast by the company.
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