Company embraces technology to increase production velocity and quality.
While lasers are not the answer for every application, they can provide flexibility, efficient material use and a repeatable, controlled process. In the past, material considerations had to be taken into account as laser cutting became less effective when material thickness increased. Material type was also an issue 21 years ago when Budget Sheet Metal Engineering was established but with the advancement in laser cutting technology these considerations are not such an issue anymore all because one of the major developments in the industry has been the introduction of the fibre laser cutting process.
Not long after being introduced fibre lasers were cutting at speeds not seen or heard of in CO2 cutting, especially in the thinner gauge material. Speeds were similar as the material increased in thickness, but edge quality deteriorated. This has now changed.
But when today’s fibre laser, so-called because the laser is created by diodes and the beam that is transferred via a fibre-optic cable, where the combination process takes place and then is delivered to the cutting head by another fibre-optic cable similar to the one used for data transfer, gets going with cutting thin gauges, it needs to be constantly fed by a high-quality beam.
Budget Sheet Metal Engineering have recently converted from CO2 laser cutting to fibre laser cutting and invested in a new Amada Ensis 3015 AJ 6kW fibre laser
“We needed the speed of the fibre laser to make more products economically. Our 20-year-old CO2 laser could not keep up with the demand needed on sheet metal, and its economic efficiency was limited. We needed a change and the fibre laser was the answer,” explained Sietse Walma van der Molen, Production Director at Budget Sheet Metal Engineering.
“The fibre laser changed the laser cutting game, not just for its speed but for its wavelength. The CO2 laser beam’s 10.6 micron wavelength had decades of success since the birth of the laser cutting industry, but when it came to non-ferrous material, optical reflectivity reared its ugly head. This complicated laser cutting of non-ferrous material in a big way. Copper and brass cutting with a CO2 laser was (and still is) rare, though some tenacious fabricators accomplished the feat with great difficulty.”
New Amada Ensis 3015 AJ 6kW fibre laser
To prepare for the fibre laser’s arrival, Budget Sheet Metal Engineering rearranged virtually its entire fabrication shop. “We moved our two Yaskawa Motoman robots that include a manipulator and SKS power joint robotic welding equipment for tack and welding operations into a nearby building. That freed up room for us to move our Amada press brakes into a uniform but production and flow orientated line. This in turn freed up space and allowed for better positioning for our new Amada Ensis 3015 AJ 6kW fibre laser.”
The machine, which cuts a variety of materials and thicknesses at high-speed, includes automatic nozzle changing and cleaning, cut process monitoring and NC gas control which allows you to automatically switch between gases. According to the company, these features make the machine suitable for the process automation that Budget Sheet Metal Engineering emphasises in its operations.
To prepare for the fibre laser’s arrival, Budget Sheet Metal Engineering rearranged virtually its entire fabrication shop. They moved their two Yaskawa Motoman robots that include a manipulator and SKS power joint robotic welding equipment for tack and welding operations, into a nearby building. That freed up room for them to move the Amada press brakes into a uniform but production and flow orientated line
The Ensis 3015 AJ series from Amada provides continuous processing of thin materials and thick plate without a cutting lens change or manual setup. This is made possible by a beam manipulation system that automatically adjusts the beam mode to accommodate whatever material type and thickness is being processed. Other features include a user-friendly control that can be post edited on the screen on the machine, there is less maintenance, less power is required and it takes a fraction of a time to turn the machine on as compared to the CO2 machine.
“The machine comes standard with two shuttle tables that change in 26 seconds. This has now created a situation where the operator cannot keep up in certain situations and pressure is also being put on the loading/unloading process. But this is why we purchased the machine – to increase our capacity and to lessen the time of processing per component. We knew that this would present a challenge and are looking into automation.”
Budget Sheet Metal Engineering have also recently purchased an automatic nut and bolt spot welder
“The reality is that a large majority of metal fabricating companies only cut material of 6mm or thinner. There’s simply not a lot of shops requiring laser cutting of very thick specialty metals for something like nuclear reactors. Those types of applications are not abundant.”
“The story of high-powered fibre laser technology is about decreasing process time in laser cutting. That’s why we are seeing metal fabricators buying one medium-powered laser cutting machine to replace three or even four older lasers. They can get components off the laser bed faster than they ever could before. This creates excess capacity, which allows you to seek and expand and seek additional business.”
Although the company is 21-years-old this year the current owners purchased the business 15 years ago. “Getting a mechanical engineer, an analyst, an economist and an industrial engineer to gel as directors of a company is an achievement. To still be doing it 15 years later is an even bigger achievement, especially if you consider we are all family.”
“Other news is that we have purchased an automatic nut and bolt spot welder, we invested in a 160KVA generator and we are busy implementing an ERP system.”
For further details contact Budget Sheet Metal Engineering on TEL: 011 792 5981 or visit www.budgetsheetmetal.co.za