TruLaser 3040 fiber laser cutting machine.Click image to enlargesupplier: TRUMPF

end user: Chrima Metal Fabrication

 

Chrima Metal Fabrication is a family owned business that operates out of a 6,039 sq m (65,000 sq ft) shop in Stratford, ON. Among its services, Chrima boasts manual and robotic welding, CNC forming and bending, tube laser cutting, tube bending and engineering design. With these, as well as its extensive flat laser cutting capabilities, Chrima caters to customers in many different industries, including alternative energy, heavy equipment and consumer motor sports.

It was to boost these capabilities that Chrima acquired a TRUMPF TruLaser 3040 fiber laser cutting machine last October. The laser has a large format 2,032 x 4,064 mm (80 X 160 in.) cutting bed, and its integrated 6001 TruDisk laser can cut mild steel up to 25.4 mm (1 in.) in thickness. The machine can handle an extensive range of geometries and materials thanks to CoolLine, which generates a water spray around the cutting head to lower heat and prevent uncontrolled melting, an advantage particularly when working with thick aluminum and mild steel. Chrima also opted to add TRUMPF’s LiftMaster Compact automated loading/unloading system to allow its operators to focus on more value-added operations.

There were a few motives for the acquisition, says head of strategy Jeff Carlin, whose grandfather founded Chrima almost half a century ago. One was simple enough: the need to add capacity to Chrima’s flat laser operations. 

Another reason is sitting right next to the 3040 on the shop floor: the 3040’s 20-year-old cousin, a TRUMPF 4030, also with a 2,032 x 4,064 mm (80 X 160 in.) cut bed. The 4030 is still going strong, but like any piece of equipment it will eventually need to be replaced, and Carlin wants to be ready well in advance. 

And regardless of how robust a 20-year-old machine may be, a lot has happened in the industry in those two decades. “We wanted the benefits of the newer machine technology,” Carlin says. “We opted for a 6000 W power source with fiber cutting technology on the new 3040. To date, all of our other lasers have been CO2 and venturing into fiber seemed like a natural progression.”

Insert all the usual arguments for fiber here: there’s virtually no maintenance required, it’s much more energy efficient, and operating costs are lower.

Of course, it’s also faster than CO2. “The speed is very impressive,” says John Sterkenburg, QRM development manager and laser operator at Chrima. He shared an example of a job where they were cutting large parts of 10 gauge galvanized steel out of a sheet. “On our older CO2 machines, the job would take nearly 50 minutes to cut. On our new TruLaser 3040, we were able to cut the same parts in about 10 minutes. Quite a dramatic time saving that our customers also benefit from.” 

The automatic nozzle changer is another big benefit, Sterkenburg says. The elimination of operator intervention when the nozzle needs to be switched is another example of how a high level of automation reduces the amount of time spent on each job and fits with Chrima’s goals of drastically reducing their lead times. 

TRUMPF says the 3040 is capable of cutting material up to an inch thick (25.4 mm), but Sterkenburg isn’t sure he believes it; he thinks it can handle more than that. 

“We’ve cut up to one-inch thick mild steel. We haven’t tested it yet, but I think it could cut thicker material. The fiber laser handles thicker aluminum really well. So
far, we’ve only cut up to three-quarter-inch aluminum, but I don’t see one-inch being a problem. The same is true for stainless. That would open up new possibilities for us,” explains Sterkenburg.

Chrima has been a TRUMPF shop for a long time. In addition to the 3040 and 4030, it has two TruMatic 3050s with 120 X 60 in. cutting beds, TRUMPF press brakes (a TruBend 7036, a TruBend 5230 and a Trumabend V1300) and a TruLaser Tube 7000. Carlin believes the brand loyalty pays dividends.

“We’re actively looking for customers that believe in what we believe in, and we want to prove to them that we’re investing in technology and process improvements that will fundamentally change the way we handle manufacturing. I think that level of trust and foresight makes our case with current customers, and gives us the ability to build new, long-term business relationships; just as we have with TRUMPF.”

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