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.
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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.
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PP Group cuts route to success with Kerf

To help realise its ambitions of being the UK’s leading independent profiling and processing company, the PP Group has consolidated its business interests by bringing its three manufacturing facilities in Salford, Gorton and St Helens, under one roof – a new 110,000sqft facility in Oldham. Moving to its new factory in 2017, the £9m investment included a 36m oxy-fuel and plasma cutting cell from Kerf Developments.

To emphasise how central the Kerf RUM4500g oxy-fuel and RUM4500p high-definition plasma cutting cell has become to the company’s strategy for continued growth, over 400 tonnes of steel is now being processed each month, a figure that equates to almost 40% of the material that passes through the doors of the 100-employee company.

With plasma and flame cutting being central to business activities, selecting the most suitable machine was critical. The bespoke production cell configuration chosen by the PP Group features a 12 x 3.5m bed with an RUM4500p single gantry 400 A Lincoln Electric plasma cutting head (with Ultrasharp cut technology) and a 24 x 3.5m table featuring two RUM4500g gantries, each with four oxy-fuel flame cutting heads – all on a single platform. This single bed configuration has streamlined workflow and improved throughput while the eight oxy-fuel heads have improved productivity by more than 35%.

“Since we installed the Kerf RUM4500 system, the cell has been operating 24 hours a day and 6 days a week,” says managing director Peter McCabe.“If it’s not burning it’s not earning. Our business has grown by 10% in the year since we moved to the new factory and the Kerf cutting cell is a major contributor to this growth.”
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Optimised plasma consumables for bevelling

Esab Welding & Cutting Products has optimised the consumables on its iSeries plasma systems for bevelling applications. The new design, distinguished by a more pointed nozzle and shield cap, narrows the torch profile to enable tilting at greater angles, moving the torch closer to the plate to maintain optimum arc lengths without collisions.

The two-piece iSeries tip gets cooled all the way to the orifice, while XtremeLife electrodes feature multiple hafnium inserts for longer life in high current applications. According to Esab, iSeries consumables can save as much as 35% when cutting mild steel and up to 70% on stainless.

To cut a full range of weld preparations, connect the iSeries to the DMX automated plasma beveller. Esab says that the DMX eliminates the need for breakaway crash protection, delivers responsive, accurate positioning and can detect a torch crash without any added components. Moreover, the device automatically resets itself after a collision.
Esab CutCloud, a connected digital system, is now powered by Microsoft Azure IoT. Azure allows for a reliable and secure architecture that sends data from an Esab CutCloud-enabled system directly to the cloud, eliminating the need for an on-site server or large IT infrastructure to gain the benefits of data management.
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Recol orders first machine of its type in UK

Recol Engineering Ltd, a Northampton-based subcontract supplier of metal-based manufacturing solutions, will become Europe’s first user of an Amada ACIES-2515TAJ 4 kW CNC fibre-laser profiling centre, complete with double-tower automation system.

Recol is currently enjoying a period of sustained growth. Moreover, the company’s continuous programme of ongoing investment in the latest manufacturing technologies has never been healthier, as evidenced by Recol’s commitment to automated manufacturing solutions.

“We already own a selection of automated Amada CO2 laser-cutting machines, including the first ACIES CO2, bought when it was released in 2013, and an Amada LC-F1,” explains director Ben Guntrip. “However, we mostly process stainless steel and, for the thinner gauges, we knew there would be gains in both speed and energy reduction by investing in our first fibre laser.”

Guntrip says that Recol is a company accustomed to “industry firsts”, and wanted nothing less for its investment in a new fibre laser. A team from Recol consequently visited Amada in Japan to assess the new ACIES-2515TAJ. Duly impressed, the company placed the order, making it the first machine of its type in Europe and only the second in the world outside of Japan.

The ACIES-2515TAJ 4 kW fibre laser is capable of cutting materials up to 6mm thick, including copper, brass and titanium. Featured is a 300-tool, 600-die automatic tool changer with ID tooling system for complete tool management.

“We will use the machine predominantly for processing stainless steel from 2.5 to 3.0mm in thickness, as this is where we will achieve the most gains, both for ourselves and our customers,” says Guntrip.
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