CANADA'S LEADING INFORMATION SOURCE FOR THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY

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CANADA'S LEADING INFORMATION SOURCE FOR THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY

CANADA'S LEADING INFORMATION SOURCE FOR THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY

ASK THE EXPERT: Boosting your shop’s flexibility by adding tube processing to your flat sheet processing

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TRUMPF's TruLaser 3030 and 3040 series flat sheet laser cutting machines with the RotoLas feature, a rotary tube and lasering process, is for companies looking to grow their business into tube or supplement their business with tube cutting in addition to their mainstay of flat sheet laser processing. PHOTO courtesy TRUMPF.

Is investing in a hybrid machine that combines fibre laser sheet processing with tube cutting worth considering? We put the question to two experts from TRUMPF: Salay Quaranta, TruLaser product manager and Ian Frank, senior applications engineer. Read what they had to say in this exclusive interview.

SHOP: Do you see a growing need among fabricators for versatility. Is there an increasing number of shops facing pressure to become more diversified in their capabilities to do smaller runs and to invest in equipment that can handle both flat sheet and tube processing?

Quaranta: What we are finding is that the customers who have these systems enjoy the flexibility in their production and the trend in the industry is to be vigilant to opportunities they can take advantage of. That’s why we have that capability on our TruLaser 2D machines, but it doesn’t take away from the machines we have for companies whose business is strictly dedicated to tube processing. You have to consider how much tube you’re processing. If someone is processing a mix of flat and tube, we welcome a conversation about specific applications and needs. If they need something more dedicated towards tube or they’re growing their tube business, that’s when we would suggest a machine for shops that are doing 100% tube processing day in and day out.

SHOP: Tell us more about TRUMPF’s offerings that combine flat sheet laser processing with tube laser processing.

Quaranta:As part of our 2D portfolio we offer our TruLaser 3030 and 3040 series flat sheet laser cutting machines with the RotoLas feature, which is a rotary tube and lasering process. This product is for companies looking to grow their business into tube or supplement their business with tube cutting in addition to their mainstay of flat sheet laser processing. RotoLas is designed for small production runs, and as the companies grow their tube business, they would find themselves growing into a dedicated tube laser cutting machine.

SHOP: How do you see the technology evolving over the next few years?

Quaranta: I think TRUMPF will continue to add higher power to our portfolio, both for sheet and tube. Again, it comes back to what the application is, the material thickness, the wall thickness, and how you are applying the laser. 

SHOP: A challenge with tube is that the tubes are not always as straight as they should be. How do you address this?

Frank: A program can never be more accurate than the tube provided for it. There are limitations on how much measuring you can do to correct positioning for a truly bad tube. If the tube is extremely bowed you have an issue. But overall, it really comes down to the project you are working on, and the accuracies that you need to maintain for that project.

SHOP: No doubt proper storage plays a role in maintaining the quality of the tubes as well. Do you recommend a tube storage system, and can it be paired with the tube laser machine?

Quaranta: Certainly, for any materials—flat sheet or tube—from the time you receive them to when you process them, you want to have proper storage because you don’t want them to deform. So, you need to be concerned about adequately storing the materials. On the flat bed laser side, we advise customers to store material in pallets and large storage systems.

SHOP: The loading and unloading of the tube into the machine and how it’s supported is also important. What should be considered in terms of the support system, particularly when dealing with longer tubes over 4 feet? 

Frank: On the flatsheet-tube RotoLas machines, everything is going to be manually operated. You’re either going to use a crane or you’re going to lift it by hand into the support system built into the machine. If you’re doing lower volume work, that’s not a big deal. We have a support system inside of the machine processing longer tubes. And we also have five clamping systems for various geometries that we can douse when adding tube. But if you are going have a high volume of jobs, it makes more sense to look at a stand-alone tube laser as it’s going to offer more automation options for the tube loading.

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