New resonator increases laser cutting capacity by 100%

1st March 2013 By: Samantha Herbst - Creamer Media Deputy Editor

Germany-based laser manufacturer Trumpf’s new TruLaser 5000 series, comprising two-dimensional (2D) flatbed laser cutting machines, is now available in South Africa through local distributor Retecon.

TruLaser 5000 can be equipped with an 8 kW resonator, called TruFlow 8000, which has increased the laser’s cutting capacity by as much as 100% when stainless steel and aluminium is fusion-cut, says Retecon’s Trumpf product manager, Graham Rome.

“TruFlow 8000 doubles the maximum stainless steel sheet thickness previously specified when using a 6 kW laser to 50 mm stainless steel,” he says.

TruFlow 8000’s improved cutting capacity is achieved with a mirror cutting-head, which is insensitive to dirt and dust, as opposed to a lens cutting-head, says Rome, further explaining that mirror cutting-heads require less maintenance and are more robust than regular lens cutting-heads, as the mirror is able to absorb heat more effectively.

“There is no need to clean a mirror cutting-head as often as a lens cutting-head, as there is less heat build-up on the mirror should there be impurities in the beam guidance. This eliminates the risk of the lenses burning out,” he notes.

Rome adds that, in the past, 25 mm stainless steel would be cut with a standard plasma cut, which had some rough edges. “Now, however, we are able to cut 25 mm stainless steel and produce perfect edges using the new feature, BrightLine, which has, among other features, improved cutting parameters.”

TruLaser 5000, which includes TruFlow 8000, comes in various sizes, ranging from 3 m to 6 m in length and 2 m in width.

TruLaser 1030 Fibre

As part of its entry-level offering to complement the high-end TruLaser 5000, Retecon launched the TruLaser 1030 Fibre in January.

The 2D laser unit is equipped with a TruDisk 2001 solid-state laser, expanding the range of applications for Trumpf’s TruLaser 1000 series.

“We offer smaller businesses, with little to no experience in laser cutting, a chance to incorporate affordable laser technology in-house,” he adds.

Nevertheless, the product’s modest investment level also makes it a suitable complementary machine for experienced job shops – for instance, during prototype construction or as a complement to punching and notching machines.

Owing to its solid-state laser, the TruLaser 1030 Fibre displays its strengths in the variety of materials it can cut and in its capability to process thin sheet metal, between 1 mm and 3 mm, up to 100% faster than a 2.5 kW carbon dioxide (CO2) laser, says Rome.

“The 1030 Fibre can cut copper of up to 3 mm thick or brass of up to 2 mm thick, whereas mild steel, stainless steel and aluminium can be cut at gauges of 12 mm, 6 mm and 5 mm respectively,” he says.

Additional advantages of the TruLaser 1030 Fibre include its low energy costs and capacity for integration into a network of lasers. This enables a second laser output to be transferred to another station through a fibre-optic cable. For instance, a welding unit can use the laser beam when the TruLaser 1030 Fibre is not actively cutting.

“Essentially, one can split the laser source and use it on another laser application when the flat- bed laser is not as productive as it should be, which is a unique feature in the market,” adds Rome.

Despite being new on the South African market, the latest addition to the TruLaser 1000 series was developed in Germany two years ago.

“Trumpf, however, does not release a machine for export until it has been tried and tested in the field,” explains Rome.

He tells Engineering News that Retecon will soon receive its first stock machine and several customers have already expressed interest in the product.

Rome adds that Retecon is planning an official midyear launch for the TruLaser 1030 Fibre, which will include an open- house viewing in Cape Town, once the product arrives in South Africa. This will be followed by a launch in Johannesburg.

Rome believes the product’s appeal lies not only in its affordability but also in its energy efficiency, as it requires less amperage on the circuit breaker as opposed to other types of CO2 lasers. This product has also brought down TruLaser 1000’s wall-plug use by more than 60%, he says.

TruLaser 8000

Retecon has imported its first TruLaser 8000, an oversized 2D flatbed laser with a 6 m × 2.5 m cutting area.

Rome tells Engineering News that this equipment is suited to companies working with oversized plates, which supply the mining industry and similar large-scale industrial companies.

“This product has been upgraded with a new control panel and single cutting-head and includes all the benefits and features of the TruLaser 3000 and 5000 series,” he says, adding that the TruLaser 8000 has a 2.5 m cutting width, with pallet changer and bed sizes ranging from 4 m to 12 m and 4m to 16m respectively.

“Positioning of the axis by means of linear drives enables speeds of over 300 m/min, making the TruLaser 8000 series the fastest machine in its class,” says Rome, adding that

Retecon has already sold its first Trulaser 8000 machine and interest from potential laser users is significant.