New laser tube processing machine optimises manufacturing process
Published: 22 June 2012 - Heather Ramsden
Laser tube processing optimises the manufacturing process in many ways. In a single operation it can perforate and create complex contours. In addition, tubes can be cut into sections. This enables innovative design solutions that minimise downstream tasks such as deburring, welding and assembly.
The resources required for intermediate stages such as storage and part handling are also much lower. As a result the process is quicker and costs per part are reduced significantly over production methods that use conventional tools for sawing, drilling and milling.
This technology also provides the freedom to design new tube structures that would not be possible using conventional methods. Welding setup is simplified and the time and costs involved in welding are reduced. Positioning aids based on tabs and slots facilitate component assembly and keyed parts prevent the risk of assembly errors.
It’s also possible to process a wide variety of material with different wall thicknesses and profile geometries without physical contact. In most cases the cut quality is so high that no additional finishing work is required.
No machine better exemplifies the scope of Trumpf laser tube processing better than the recently introduced TruLaser Tube 7000. This flexible, high end machine can process tubes with a rectangular, round or oval cross-section, cut thin-walled or large heavy tubes and incorporate complex contours and cutouts. Without loss of productivity it can cut tubes and profiles up to 250mm in diameter with a wall thickness of up to 8mm.
The fully automated machine operates with minimal downtime. The stepped rollers that support and guide the tubes adjust automatically to the diameter of each workpiece. Even the large waste bin used to remove cutting residue is emptied automatically.
The FocusLine mechanism sets the laser focus and automatically adjusts it to suit the type and thickness of the material being processed. And the machine software selects the appropriate laser parameters for the type of tube to be cut; self centring chuck jaws adjust to each tube’s geometry. Even when manufacturing short-run batches, high quality and low costs are assured.
A new feature on the TruLaser Tube 7000 is the ability to bevel cut up to 45? in mild steel, stainless steel and aluminium. The high cutting speed assures high productivity during bevel cutting and, via the programming system TruTops Tube, it is easy to create mitre, bevel and angled intersections.
To extend the flexibility of the system even further the TruLaser Tube 7000 has a part-removal station that sorts the finished parts onto a conveyor table, into wire cages or containers as required.
For those wishing to automate further the TruLaser Tube 7000 can be supplied complete with the LoadMaster Tube loading system which can accommodate up to four metric tons of raw material; the gripper system adapts automatically to the measured tube lengths. And even on the fully automated system, individual tubes can still be loaded manually.