Laser Technology

Clean cut choice

By Nick Wright

Architectural metal maker eliminates shear work, boosts productivity and opens new markets with fiber laser

July/August 2014 - The late Steve Jobs once said design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. At Ore Inc., a North Salt Lake, Utah-based custom fabricator of architectural elements, a modern aesthetic drives designs that maximize function with minimal ornamentation.

Ore’s products are the stuff of new college campus buildings or tech-start up offices. The company makes modular planters, seamless one-piece benches, fire pits and water features. The final constructions, which are made from metals and wood, are seductive in their simplicity. Manufacturing isn’t a word that seems to fit Ore’s products—rather, they appear as if manifested directly from the designer’s imagination without a single weld, bend or grind. After learning about some of the advanced machinery in Ore’s facility, it’s no surprise business is growing: The company has grown about 40 percent each of the past three years.

One of those machines behind Ore’s success is the Nukon Pro Series Fiber Laser, supplied by JMT USA, also based in Salt Lake City. The laser is the first step in Ore’s fabrication process, according to Michael Brown, production manager at Ore. Since adding the laser in December 2013, productivity has increased about 30 percent. The laser cutting time to produce four-planter walls and bases, for example, is 50 percent faster than it was to shear those parts individually. That improved turnaround for a workflow is crucial when dealing with high-end clients.


“Most of our jobs go to high-profile individual homes, universities and businesses,” Brown says. Its customer base includes landscape architects across the country, with a majority of projects going to New York City and the Northeast. “This past week we completed jobs for both the new Google and Apple headquarters.”

Before purchasing the NF Pro Series laser, Ore sheared square and rectangular parts, and outsourced all necessary laser cutting work. The company realized that by purchasing a laser, it could eliminate all shear work and generate new laser cutter-driven designs. It has made on-time delivery of parts more reliable. Ultimately, Ore can harness custom fabrication services, opening up new markets.

Ore’s sleek products are fabricated from aluminum and steel up to 1⁄4 in. thick. The laser has also allowed Ore to take on outside laser processing work of up to 1 in. thick mild steel, stainless steel up to 1⁄2 in. thick, brass up to 1⁄ 2 in. thick and copper up to 3⁄8 in. thick. After cutting with the NF Pro fiber laser, pieces are formed on the press brake, or radially-shaping rollers if needed. Next, pieces are sent to fabrication for welding or grinding. Lastly, they’re powder coated.

For Ore’s process before the fiber laser, it had to weld angles on top of each sheared planter for stability and the appearance of a top lip. This required time and shop consumables for both welding and grinding welds clean. Now, “with the laser we can cut profiles that allow us to bend the top lip, using a press brake,” Brown explains. “We now only have to weld and clean up the mitered corners of each planter top.”

Building on a relationship

JMT has had a relationship with Ore for several years. It first supplied the company a shear in 2008. Ore also has a slip roll and band saw from JMT. The NF Pro 1530 laser has a 5 ft. by 10 ft. cutting area powered by a 5 kW resonator. Its built-in conveyor system sifts slag and materials from the cutting area. Its control is a PA 8000 LW made by Power Automation with a 19-in. TFT LCD touch screen. The linear positioning system swiftly maneuvers the cutting head at acceleration speeds of 5 Gs. Its posted average power consumption is 28 kW, and at 37,500 lbs., it’s one of the heavier laser cutters on the market.

The Nukon Fiber Laser line is a relatively new offering from JMT. It was first unveiled as an option in 2013. “Altogether, the technology, the software and Nukon’s practical application experience with the fiber laser are the key reasons JMT chose to become an exclusive partner with Nukon in the United States,” says Kyle Jorgenson, president of JMT USA.


JMT has sold several fiber lasers this year and it has more business in its pipeline, he says. JMT even recently hired a laser product specialist to handle its swelling number of inquiries. Shops working with copper, brass and titanium are looking into the Nukon Pro Series fiber laser. “We’re also seeing demand from the HVAC industry where customers are cutting aluminum, soft sheet metal, stainless or galvanized steel.”

Another customer in the transportation industry is using the Nukon Pro Series fiber laser to make custom skid plates for all-terrain vehicles. “With no beam diversions, the JMT Nukon Fiber Laser offers extreme accuracy for any metal cutting requirements. Our other uses include precision and general fabrication shops,” Jorgenson says.

The clean, precise cuts on Ore’s products are demonstrative of the ease with which it processes an end-product. 

JMT and Nukon

Last year, JMT partnered with Nukon, a 13-year-old company based in Turkey. “Through several decades of experience, we’ve come across many different cutting systems. Nukon offers a cutting system that is revolutionary in terms of efficiency, cost and production,” Jorgenson says. 

Nukon originally started as a metal cutting house and has worked with many types and brands of cutting systems. Dissatisfied with the high cost of operating and maintaining CO2 and plasma cutting machines, Nukon engineers designed a new and innovative laser cutting system using IPG fiber, common in many fiber lasers. Before taking its machines to market, Nukon used the machines for its in-house cutting applications. 

“Today, 10 fiber lasers are in continuous operation at the Nukon factory with plans underway to add four additional lasers. This first-hand experience sets Nukon apart from other manufacturers. We felt confident partnering with them knowing they use their cutting system on a daily basis in their own business,” adds Jorgenson.

When an OEM like Nukon is using its own laser just as effectively as an end-user like Ore, it raises the question: How long will MM-07814-laser-image3it be before fiber lasers replace legacy CO2 machines?

“In today’s economy, smart shop owners are looking for ways to increase their profits by reducing their manufacturing costs,” Jorgenson says. “Legacy CO2 lasers are money pits because they consume a lot of energy and require frequent maintenance.”

It’s well known that fiber lasers have significantly lower operating costs compared to CO2s. They use about a third of the energy, and don’t need expensive consumables or frequently maintained parts. Case in point:

“We are seeing approximately 50 percent greater efficiency in our power consumption, using approximately 40 kWh vs. an estimated 80 kWh to operate a similar CO2 laser,” says Brown at Ore.

For these reasons, JMT regional sales manager Shane Reynolds predicts that in the next two to three years, the majority of cutting systems will be fiber lasers.

As that majority grows, fiber lasers will become more affordable for smaller manufacturers. Aside from the in-house efficiency gains, the laser is also now a revenue source for Ore as it can bring in outside laser business to take advantage of its capacity. That’s no small benefit for the 25 employees working two shifts at Ore’s 18,000 sq. ft. facility, which is slated for expansion—again, no surprise for a company posting 40 percent growth for the last three years. 

Although the Nukon Fiber laser is a bit more complex than a minimally designed bench or architectural element, its fundamental technology simplifies cutting and needs little electricity. It makes you wonder what Steve Jobs would have said about it. FFJ



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