Dune-Buggy Maker Cruises to Laser-Shop Success

April 1, 2017

Prior to opening his Southern-California job shop in 2001, Larry Rosevear honed his sheetmetal-fabrication skills by building dune buggies...a lot of dune buggies.

“My company was selling 100 buggies per year,” reflects Rosevear. “I purchased my first laser-cutting machine in 2000, and appreciated how much faster it could produce parts compared to my plasma-cutting machine.”

A selection of parts fabricated by Laser Innovations showcases the capabilities of the firm’s new 4000-W fiber-laser cutting machine, which carves sheetmetal at speeds to 1200 in./min., including processing 3⁄8- and 5⁄16-in.-thick sheet lights-out during evening hours.
So fast, in fact, that Rosevear says each day he could finish all of the cutting work needed to build his buggies in just 2 hr., leaving the laser-cutting machine sitting idle for 6 hr. So, he began taking on odd jobs for the cutting machine.

“Soon I began cutting parts for other people, and we began to receive more and more orders,” he says.

The business grew so quickly that the company, in 2001, evolved into a 100-percent sheetmetal-fabrication job shop—Laser Innovations. The fledgling company launched operations with the laser-cutting machine, as well as a waterjet machine and a press brake.

“The job-shop business proved easier to predict than the dune-buggy business,” explains Rosevear. “My early clientele were my customers who had purchased dune buggies—they saw the quality of the laser. We were getting business through word of mouth, and soon I was even building parts for my previous dune-buggy competitors.”

Cruising to Success

Today, the company occupies two 8700-sq.-ft. buildings in Anaheim, CA, with an equipment list that includes multiple CO2 laser- and waterjet-cutting machines, as well as forming and welding equipment that support customers in the medical, display, military, automotive, construction and other industries. Most recently, in March 2015 Laser Innovations installed its first fiber-laser cutting machine, a 4000-W unit (a Prima Power Platino model) with a three-station sheetmetal-storage tower.

“My friend’s fab shop owns three cutting machines equipped with automation,” Rosevear says, “and he told me that I was missing the boat if I didn’t consider automation on my next laser. We had been studying the fiber lasers for some time, and I had decided (early in 2014) that I was going to look to run larger quantities of thin-gauge (16-, 18- and 20-gauge) sheet with an automated cutting machine. We toured the FABTECH show late that year (in Atlanta, GA) with such a machine in mind, and decided on the Prima Platino.”

Rated for mild steel to 20 mm thick, the machine shines particularly on thin and medium-gauge sheetmetal. It’s equipped with a Tower Server blank-storage tower that allows for easy loading/unloading of blanks and processed sheets. It has an elevator for loading and unloading pallets on and off of the tower, and features single-sheet separating and sheet referencing. And, it supports lights-out operation.

“We often cut 3⁄8- and 5⁄16-in.-thick sheet at night, unmanned,” says Rosevear. “The machine is reliable and cuts all night long on these thicker materials. With the automated tower we can run unmanned and lights out. We love the tower...we just load all of our sheets and it automatically transfers them, and then unloads the cut parts. It’s a real time saver.

“The thicker sheets,” he continues, “are heavy for one operator to load manually. The tower eliminates manual labor and material handling. It loads one sheet to the laser, the machine cuts and unloads the parts, and we’re up and running again.”

Rosevear also appreciates the relatively little maintenance required to keep the fiber-laser machine up and running, compared to the CO2 machines. “We’ve only had to replace one lens in the fiber-laser machine,” he says, “and, the speed is awesome. We can cut at speeds to 1200 in./min. with the new machine, three times faster than with a CO2 model.”

Attracting New Business

“Thanks to the new fiber-laser machine,” Rosevear adds, “we have picked up a few new customers. On long runs we actually can charge a lower price for the same hourly work because of the speed of the machine. In all, since installing the Platino Fiber my business has increased by 35 percent. Profit margins are up and production time is down.” MF

Article provided by Prima Power, Arlington Heights, IL: 847/952-6500, www.primapower.com.

Industry-Related Terms: Forming, LASER, Run
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: Prima Power North America, Inc.

Technologies: Cutting, Fabrication


Must be logged in to post a comment.
There are no comments posted.

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Start receiving newsletters.