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Laser Technology

Built like a tank

By Gretchen Salois

Above: Change-ups to the Laser Mech heads are easy and fast on the CL965.

Operators can feed material into machinery that yields reliable cuts each time

November 2019 - Simply put, “You sell more if you have more capacity,” says Joe Goble, production manager at Clow Stamping Co. Inc. The Merrifield, Minnesota-based fabricator needed a metal cutting system capable of “eating up the workload,” to support an order book that encompasses a lot of thinner materials, including stainless and aluminum.

Clow Stamping runs four lasers from Cincinnati Inc. as well as press brakes. The most recent purchase was the Cincinnati CL965 fiber laser. “We needed clean cutting, and the fiber goes beyond cutting thin stuff quickly,” Goble says. “We can use laser to cut more 1⁄4-in. steel with nitrogen with way higher feed rates. Before [installation], it took twice the amount of time to run that thickness.”

The ability to cut faster using fiber laser technology has opened up opportunities for Clow to work more efficiently, which is especially helpful with its prototyping work. “We can break into our production schedule easier and perform prototype jobs,” Goble says. Three shifts keep the production line moving 24 hours a day, five days a week. “We work a lot of Saturdays, too. There are always people here.”

Clow’s fabrications end up in a wide range of industries and well-known OEMs throughout North America. “We work with different materials from job to job, depending on what each customer wants,” Goble says. “We switch from stainless to aluminum in different grades using each of our lasers. We know that the CL965 will provide us with a clean cut. Switching out nozzles or lenses is quick and easy.”

FFJ 1119 laser image1

Clow Stamping has adjusted over the years by adding multiple employees to help mitigate the workload.

Point and go

The Microsoft Windows software makes it easy for operators to transition between jobs as well as shifts. “It makes finding operators easier because as long as you have any kind of computer experience, you can learn how to run the controller,” Goble says. “Our operators were able to jump in and find their way around pretty easily. We can set programs up ahead of time, and while they’re pulling one job off the line, they can set up the next job even as the machine is still running.”

Cincinnati’s HMI control is designed with the operator in mind. Dynamic power control is a standard feature that matches power to feed rate, resulting in a consistent cut. Optional features such as the automatic nozzle changer allow seamless transition of nozzles when switching materials, while the ball transfer load table allows large material sheets to be easily positioned on the pallet.

The new Laser Mech heads are easy to adjust on the CL965, making change-ups easy and fast. As production accelerates, Clow has adjusted over the years by adding multiple employees to help manage the workload.

“We [have a dedicated] employee to help line up jobs on the laser and program it,” Goble says. “The majority of the work is programmed during the first shift, and is stacked up and ready to go. The operator just needs to get material fed into the machine, select the job and hit start. We’re able to stage the material ahead of time, making turnaround quick.”

As tolerances tighten and machine technology advances, customer requirements do as well. “Customers want better and cleaner parts. They expect it,” Goble says. “With fiber, we are able to cut at high speeds and still get those results—and it doesn’t have to be super thin material.

FFJ 1119 laser image2

“As long as you have any kind of computer experience, you can learn how to run the controller,” says Joe Goble at Clow.

Cincinnati emails customers with update notifications for both hardware and software as they become available. “We have the ability to remotely access customers’ machines and use augmented reality (help lightning) to best support customers with issues or updates,” says Matt Garbarino, Cincinnati’s director of marketing communications.

Fiber laser technology has evolved where thicker materials can be cut as quickly and efficiently as thinner materials were processed five years ago. “As technology continues to evolve, the ability to cut thicker materials continues to attract previous CO2 users to the technology,” Garbarino says.

Compared with CO2 lasers, maintenance for the CL965 is significantly reduced. It does not need a complicated beam delivery system. “Since the laser is solid state, there is no preventive maintenance required,” Garbarino says. “Think old cathode tube TVs compared to new solid-state HD.”

Cincinnati’s tech support can remotely connect to machines in order to conduct troubleshooting, repair and system updates. “This is faster and more convenient than always having to send a service engineer to the customer,” Garbarino says. “Customers appreciate the dramatic increase in machine uptime and the minimal impact on product.”

“We used to have to slow down feed rates and play around with the machine in order to get the finish we wanted. Now, the quality of the beam when using fiber laser means we don’t have to worry about mirrors getting dirty or about multiple optics like with a CO2 laser. It’s just way more stable and our parts are more accurate as a result,” says Goble. FFJ

Sources

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Beckwood Press Co. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters Triform

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc.

LASER TECHNOLOGY

Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. Mazak Optonics Corp. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC MC Machinery Systems Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SigmaTEK Systems LLC

BEVELING

Murata Machinery, USA, Inc. Davi Inc. Striker Systems
Steelmax Tools LLC TRUMPF Inc.

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

COIL PROCESSING

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Bradbury Group MTS Sensors Rolleri USA

STEEL

Burghardt + Schmidt Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial Automec Inc. BLM Group
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies SafanDarley

WATERJET

Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

PUNCHING

Barton International

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc. Behringer Saws Inc.

WELDING

Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company

 

MetalForming Inc.

 

 

 

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

 

 

 

Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

 


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