Streamlined Part Separating, Picking and Sorting Minimizes Laser-Cut Part Costs

October 13, 2021

At FABTECH, Trumpf displayed what it calls “Smart Solutions”--software and hardware needed to drive the profitability of sheet metal fabricating operations.  When it comes to laser cutting, the focus not only is on laser power and cutting speed; we’re talking minimizing part costs by paying attention to what happens after the cut.  

“Profitability comes when shops optimize how operators spend their time,” Trumpf TruLaser product manager Salay Quaranta tells MetalForming, “by using technology that will reduce the time spent removing parts from nests and picking and sorting them, and minimizing the amount of rework needed to clean up cut edges.”

Rather than display and demonstrate machines—lasers, press brakes and the like—at its FABTECH booth, Trumpf displayed technology virtually via live feeds to its locations around the country, including its Connecticut headquarters and its Chicagoland Smart Factory (which, by the way, celebrated its fourth birthday on Sept. 12, just a day before FABTECH’s opening day).   A Smart Solution focal point: new nano-joint technology that impressively promises to slash the time needed to separate parts from nests by as much as 90 percent, Salay says, compared to more commonly used micro joints.

Trumpf-nano-joints-FABTECHAs described to MetalForming by Brett Thompson, Trumpf laser technologies and sales consulting manager, “the power-control interface to our TruDisk laser, called TruControl, when combined with the closed-loop power-measurement system can ramp laser power very quickly. This allows us to replace micro joints with nano joints, which tab only the bottom edge of the cut rather than the entire thickness.

“These nano joints,” Thompson continues, “typically only are about 15 percent of the sheet thickness and around 3 mm long.  Compared to through-thickness micro joints, they allow an operator to break parts free from the nest in a fraction of the time.”

Thompson also explains that the nano joints result from lightning-fast ramping up and down of laser power, without slowing the laser’s cutting speed and without the need to stop the cut and re-pierce the material.

“A great deal of development work went into developing the power-ramping data tables based on material type and sheet thickness,” he says, “providing the optimum combination of strength (to hold the parts int the nest and avoid tip-up) while minimizing the amount of residual material.”

A critical contributor to the success of the technology is the use of closed-loop power measurement and control.  “We can gauge the power level at the absorber within the laser assembly,” Thompson continues, “and feed that data back to the control to ensure that we maintain a consistent power level during cutting, and as we control laser power to create the nano joints.”

“In addition to reduced part-separation time, the nano joints,” adds Quaranta, “also promise to reduce the time spent finishing part edges--by as much as 80 percent. The technology is available on 5000-series TruLaser machines,” she adds, and expects that as more data tables are developed it will become available on other machines as well.

Trumpf-sorting-guide-FABTECH“We see this technology as an extension of our focus on optimizing operator efficiency to drive profitability,” Quaranta says.  This includes Trumpf’s introduction, in 2020, of its interactive Sorting Guide—available on all of its 3- and 4-m cutting machines.  Devised to assist operators as they separate, pick and sort parts from nest, in particular nests with a high mix of parts, it features a boom-mounted camera overlooking the pallet of cut parts and a large color monitor that displays the parts in a color-coded array.

“Not only does the Sorting Guide assist the operator as he sorts and stacks parts,” Quaranta explains, “organizing them for delivery to downstream processing functions, but it also tracks how many of each part have been cut and sorted, helps to flag any missing parts, and automatically reenters those missing parts into the company’s MRP system.”

Big picture: We all want to cut more parts in a shorter amount of time but doing so requires shops to efficiently manage how the parts are handled after cutting. Focus your attention not only on the laser-power race amongst suppliers, but also on the technology being introduced to help manage the resulting increase in parts-making capacity. Throughput and avoiding bottlenecks will lead to efficient and profitable production.

Industry-Related Terms: Color, Edge, Gauge, Hardware, LASER, Pallet, Point, Thickness
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: TRUMPF Inc.

Technologies: Cutting


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

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Start receiving newsletters.