With this new feature, the system looks straight through the nozzle right at the cutting zone, monitoring it in real-time and autonomously controlling the feed rate of solid-state laser machines. This new function ensures a more reliable process for both flame and fusion cutting, reducing scrap and saving on rework.
Active Speed Control also responds immediately to any changes in the material being processed. The system allows users to achieve tangible gains in productivity with their machines, significantly lowering part manufacturing costs. Active Speed Control monitors numerous different process parameters. One example is the position of the laser beam in relation to the center of the nozzle during the entire cutting process. The system informs the operator of any deviations, helping to avoid scrap. Additional functions for automated laser cutting can easily be added to the system in the future thanks to the software update feature.
Maximum speed even with variations in material thicknesses
The kerf reveals all sorts of information about part quality and process stability. The easier it is for the molten material to escape from the kerf, the smoother the cutting process. Active Speed Control keeps a careful eye on this flow of molten material in mild and stainless steel plates that are four or more millimeters thick. The sensor system looks straight through the nozzle to observe the radiation that is emitted as the material melts. This “process radiation” allows the system to determine whether the molten material is emerging as planned, to identify the fastest possible feed rate, and to make any necessary adjustments – a process it repeats many hundreds of times a second. In this way, Active Speed Control maintains the optimum feed rate even in cases where the thickness of the material varies within a single sheet, or where the top of the sheet is contaminated with rust or paint. In conventional systems, these kinds of variations and changes in material would typically lead to slag formation or interruptions in the cutting process.
Smart sensor system makes life easier for machine operators
Currently, machine operators have to tailor the feed rate – a critical parameter – to the material they are cutting, and adjust it as necessary. One way they do this is by making test cuts. Active Speed Control eliminates the need for these kinds of tests. That simplifies the production process, particularly in single part manufacturing.
To allow for variations in the material, operators also frequently reduce the machine’s feed rate. That makes the process more reliable in many cases, but it often has a negative impact on the cutting process and the quality of the cut. For example, a lower feed rate can cause heat to accumulate within the material. This build-up of heat can cause the material to melt in an uncontrolled fashion, reducing the reliability of the machining process. By automatically controlling the feed rate, Active Speed Control prevents this accumulation of heat from developing in the first place.
This feature also offers plenty of other benefits. For example, the operator can view a live image of the cutting zone as seen through the nozzle, and they can browse key process parameters at any time on the machine’s control panel or on a tablet. That makes it easier to monitor the machine during production. Previously, operators had to manually create what is known in the industry as a ‘tapeshot’ to ensure that the parameters were set to their optimum values – and that was a laborious and time-consuming process.
For more information contact Retecon Machine Tools on TEL: 011 976 8600 or visit www.retecon.co.za