New lasers increase ouput

WORTH IT Laser technology provides added shortcuts for customers and can help increase their manufacturing process

PRECISION Lasers cut at very high speeds thereby reducing the time it takes to produce parts

11th March 2016

By: Malusi Mkhize



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Precision laser-cutting solutions provider Cutting Edge Technologies is benefiting from increased outputs, owing to a range of German manufactured lasers.

The company, based in KwaZulu-Natal, is using three 5 kW L5030 Trumpf lasers at its Westmead factory, allowing for the cutting of mild steel from 0.5 mm thick, aluminium up to 12 mm thick and stainless/mild steels up to 20 mm thick.

“We run a job shop. This means we are the first line of supply to our customers who use the metals that we cut to manufacture other products,” says Cutting Edge Technologies managing member Wayne Foulkes.

He tells Engineering News that the lasers the company uses cut at very high speeds, thereby reducing not only the time it takes to produce parts, but also the cost to customers.

When comparing costs using laser cutting instead of mechanical cutting, it is well worth it, as customers will notice that the cost difference of labour and consumables to produce a part through mechanical cutting, which comprises grinding and drilling, is not that significant, explains Foulkes.

“Laser-cut parts are almost identical, which makes using them in any production process more time efficient, owing to them being used without being cleaned and grinded,” he adds.

Further advantages of laser technology include, for example, its using tongue-in-groove slots where two parts are joined. This ensures that the parts are placed in the correct position every time.

Cutting Edge Technologies’ Trumpf lasers are manufactured by Germany-based metal fabrication machinery and industrial lasers providers Trumpf Group. The lasers have a replacement cost of about R9-million for each unit, and, despite there being cheaper alternatives available, the company insists that they do not offer the same working range, speed and reliability of the Trumpf lasers.

The laser power unit used on the lasers is a CO2 TLF 5000 turbo that generates 5 000 W. The unit uses a combination of high voltage electricity and gas to produce the energy of the laser beam.

Foulkes highlights that the lasers are maintained on a daily basis, noting that scheduling maintenance is critical because the machines operate 24/7, six days a week and, therefore, the company cannot afford any unforeseen breakdowns.

Planned maintenance at the factory can be scheduled for one of the lasers while the other two remain in operation, which saves downtime. A trained technical team, available 24/7, service the lasers twice a year, with in-house fault finding and maintenance enabling Cutting Edge Technologies to keep costs to a minimum.

Carbon dioxide lasers are the highest- powered continuous wave lasers that are currently available on the market.

Cutting Edge Technologies has been employing laser technology since the company was established in 2002.

The company also offers a cut and supply option, and stocks a vast range of materials, such as Supra, Domex, Hardox, Bennox and Spring Steels, which are classified as mild steels and does in-house binding and welding as a complete fabrication facility.

Among the stainless steels, the company offers 304, 316, 3CR12, 430, and duplex steels.

Cutting Edge Technologies supply mainly to the motor industry and other original-equipment manufacturers.

Edited by Zandile Mavuso
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features




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