Laser Job Shop the Perfect Stamper/Spinner PartnerAugust 25, 2019
There’s flat laser cutting and then there’s complex 3D cutting using a five-axis laser system. No one knows both processes better than Lasercraft USA Inc., North Ridgeville, OH, a laser cutting job shop that specializes in producing formed metal parts (including stamped and spun metal parts) with laser cut features.
|As explained by Lasercraft president Gregory Claycomb, the firm’s latest addition to its laser-cutting machine stable provides ideal for cutting features such as slots, complex hole patterns and precision shaped edges in contoured stamped and spun parts.|
Lasercraft processes cold-rolled steel, aluminum and stainless steel, from the thinnest sheet that ranges from 0.060 to 0.120 in. to the thickest —11 to 16 gauge. Tube diameter maxes out at 14 in.
Most of Lasercraft’s projects call for laser cutting of custom-designed formed parts with complex geometries —work that many metal spinners and stampers often prefer to subcontract. Serving that market for more than 20 years, the firm operates more than a dozen laser-cutting machines, the newest of which is a five-axis Prima Power Laserdyne 430 workstation. This new addition to the Lasercraft shop offers a large work volume (585 by 408 by 508 mm) and is designed for metal and nonmetal cutting, welding and drilling. It boasts the Prima Power BeamDirector compact rotary- and tilt-axis head—900 deg. of rotary motion and 300 deg. of tilt motion—reportedly the only head that allows drilling at an angle of 10 deg. off of the surface along the entire stroke of the linear axes.
New Software Enhances Machine Performance
As explained by Lasercraft president Gregory Claycomb, cutting features such as slots, complex hole patterns and precision-shaped edges in contoured steel, aluminum and similar thin and thick metal sheet can be slow, tedious and require diligent operator attention.
“When we saw the potential with this new machine,” he says, “equipped with some new software (Prima Power Fasttrim and SmartTechniques), we were pleasantly surprised at the speed and flexibility of the machine and its ability to process small and large formed parts. Since our part runs vary from a few prototypes to 10,000 parts per month, the system has proved to be an ideal addition to our shop.” Fasttrim CAD-CAM software enables Lasercraft to model parts, define process paths and feature locations, and build part fixtures. It allows posting of a complete program for 2D and 3D laser welding, drilling and, most appropriately, for Lasercraft’s complex and challenging cutting applications. “The new machine along with the new software has proven to be a revelation for the productivity improvements it provides,” says Claycomb.
According to Prima Power literature, among the stand-out benefits delivered by Fasttrim:
|New processing software that accompanied the new cutting machine keeps the cutting nozzle properly spaced from the part surface for optimal processing, eliminates large pierce points and achieves relatively fast pierce times.|
- Full part simulation with collision detection, allowing the programmer to eliminate potential issues before sending the program to the manufacturing floor.
- Auto-programming functions to automatically program parts based on the geometry of the model.
- Support of as many as six axes simultaneously.
- The ability to modify tool paths through sheet offset, cutter offsets and axis translations
The SmartTechnique software, meanwhile, keeps the cutting nozzle properly spaced from the part surface for optimal processing, and even corrects for part placement and variation when processing rotary parts on a vertical axis. Another SmartTechnique application, Smart Pierce, according to Prima Power Laserdyne, provides productivity improvements to Lasercraft by eliminating large pierce points and achieving relatively fast pierce times, minimizing the potential for part distortion. That’s particularly important on thinner metal-spun and stamped parts, according to Claycomb, for accuracy and for cosmetically correct appearance. Also, Smart Pierce helps to minimize drilling spatter.
And, yet another feature Lasercraft has begun to utilize: right-angle assemblies for the standard focusing lens, for processing inside of cylinders with diameters as small as 60 mm.