07 May 2012
Fibre lasers & more
Ahead of its annual InTech Open House in November, Trumpf reveals details of what visitors will be able to see, plus a number of other developments. Andrew Allcock reports
The German Trumpf group has bounced back to health, with its 2010-2011 (July to June) turnover put at just over €2 billion, almost equalling its 2007/8 record year, according to UK managing director Scott Simpson, while the Luton operation has swung from a £25 million turnover to £34 million between 2009/10 and 2010/11 – the former delivering a loss, the latter profit. And, for this year, Mr Simpson believes that Trumpf in the UK will see a turnover of £43 million – that is 72% greater than the company's 2009/10 level of business and 16% better than its record year of 2007/8.
It has clearly been an astonishing recovery, both for the UK and the group as a whole. And the UK managing director underlines that the sheet metalworking and laser company ploughed €150 million back into R&D in its last full financial year, continuing a long-term trend, which is why the company will be showing off yet more new technology later in the year – TruLaser 1030 (video, above) and 5040 fibre laser profilers, the Trubend Cell 7000 (see video here) and TrueMicro picoseconds laser developments for marking.
Image: The TruLaser 1030 Fiber is an entry-level fibre laser
But there will also be an increased emphasis in the UK on providing services to help companies boost their productivity, which will include a greater push on Trumpf's software products, with this backed by "knowledge-based personnel".
As Mr Simpson underlines: "Machine technology is only part of the solution for companies,;we will be creative to help manufacturers in the UK. We really have to take people to a new level of understanding of technology and how they can get the best from the equipment."
Trumpf has, for example, employed two people to demonstrate the Trumpf TruTops programming system – "We never had that before," says the managing director. In addition, the company is recruiting tooling specialists (punching and bending) to advise firms on potential benefits in this area. "It is important that we help companies and push the boundaries, because our success depends on the success of our customers. We aim to help them be more successful," Mr Simpson underlines.
COST-EFFECTIVE FIBRE LASER
Moving first to machine technology, however, and the TruLaser 1030 Fiber offers companies a cost-effective entré into solid-state, fibre-delivered laser profiling (see www.machinery.co.uk/33270 for a fuller description of fibre lasers and variations) – starting at below £300,000.
This machine features, for the first time in a laser profiler, a 2 kW TruDisk laser source – the source has been used in other applications areas, however. Built in the US, it is a progression on the US-built TruLaser 1050 with TruCoax 2500 laser, a 2.5 kW CO2 machine and the first 1000 series machines. Key for the new machine is that energy consumption at comparable laser power is around 40% less than the TruCoax 2500. The TruLaser 1030 Fiber is a 3,000 by 1,500 mm machine, boasts 60 m/min axis speeds (85 m/min simultaneous), but has a footprint of less than 25 m2 and will see its UK launch later this year. It also features a single cutting head, slashing set-ups and maintenance, with just one item, a protective lens considered a wear item.
The benefits of the TruLaser 1030 Fiber over the 1050 CO2 machine are a broader area of application – it can cut reflective materials, such as copper and brass; plus it can cut thinner gauge material faster than its CO2 cousin. Cutting capacity for the machine is: mild steel, 12.7 mm; stainless steel, 6.4 mm; aluminium, 5 mm; copper, 2 mm; and brass, 3.2 mm.
The new machine is offered with three levels of automation – manual, moveable pallet; semi-automatic pallet changer; and fully automatic pallet changer. Trumpf believes that either manual or fully automatic will be the two that will find favour in the UK.
Moving from entry-level fibre to the very leading edge and the TruLaser 5040 Fiber, a new machine with a new fiber machine laser source – the 5 kW TruDisk (the 3 kW TruDisk unit of the smaller 5030 is also offered). The 5040 is a full 4,000 by 2, 000 mm sheet machine and will be launched later this year in the UK (see also www.machinery.co.uk/39637). It will not feature at InTech, but the new 5 kW TruDisk laser source will, on a TruLaser 5030.
While the benefit is again in thinner sheets, 1 to 5 mm, suggests Nick Damjanovic, national sales manager, the new 5 kW laser source – which, incidentally, it is claimed gives the company a market lead in the fibre laser power stakes – now allows the cutting of much thicker materials – mild steel, 25 mm (20 mm for 3 kW); stainless steel, 20 mm (15 mm); aluminium, 20 mm (15 mm); copper, 10 mm (6 mm); and brass 10 mm (6 mm).
And, compared with the 3 kW source, the 5 kW unit offers a 53% speed increase when cutting 1 mm stainless steel, 47% for 2 mm, 76% for 3 mm, 40% for 5 mm and 100% for 5 mm. On mild steel, improvements are also large, with 1 mm cut 41% faster; 2 mm, 56%; and 6 mm, 106% faster. For copper, the speed increase is 35% for 1 mm thick sheet. And versus a 5 kW CO2 machine that draws 105 kVA, the 5 kW TruLaser 5040 draws just 55 kVA.
Moving to bending and the group has come up with a high speed automated bending cell, launched as a concept at EuroeBlech two years ago and to be introduced to the UK later this year – TruBend Cell 7000. It is designed as a bespoke cell and is capable of bending parts 500 by 400 mm and up to 8 mm thick at a rate of 3 sec/bend. The components of the cells are a TruBend 7036 press brake, optimised for automated use, a BendMaster robot that holds the parts, a pallet system, the LoadMaster Bend loading unit for pallet unloading, and tracks.
Image: The TruBend Cell 7000
As an option, tool changing can be via the new ToolMaster Bend tool changer, which removes the need for grippers on the BendMaster robot.
At four seconds per bend, the cell can tackle 900 bends per hour, 7,200 bends per 8-hour shift and 21,600 bends per day. Raw material is housed in standard compartmentalised pallets, in which up to 24 different blanks or 4,800 parts can be supplied at a thickness up to 1 mm – they do not have to be stacked accurately. As an example, a pallet with 4,800 blanks each requiring eight bends, would take over 42 hours to complete.
Turning to smaller matters, Trumpf's picosecond lasers – the new TruMicro 5070 and 5270 – are the highest powered such lasers on the market (industrially proven), says the company. There is no detectible heat influence with picoseconds lasers. The 5070 offers 100 W in the infrared wavelength area (for processing ceramic, sapphire, hard metals and zirconium oxide), with the 5270 offering 60 W in the green wavelength area (for cutting display glass for mobile phones, PC tablets etc).
 Mass production laser trimming/piercing
 Latest version of TruTop
 Synchro approach delivers benefits
Box item 1
Mass production laser trimming/piercing
Trumpf has designed its first mass production laser cutting cell for the automotive industry, the TruLaser 8030. This system is intended for part-dedicated piercing and trimming of hot-formed boron-based steel stampings, a material that is unkind to press tools.
The system sees a robot work a piece part held on an indexing table, all contained within a booth. An indexing table is integrated into the side of the booth, with parts indexed in under 3 secs. Currently featuring manual part load/unload, the next step for Trumpf is to add a robot to the cell for part loading/unloading outside the booth.
Inside the booth there is fume extraction and a scrap conveyor. The system has X, Y and Z-axis travels of 3,000 by 1,300 by 600 mm, with ±135° of B-axis travel and 360 ° C-axis travel. A 3 kW TruDisk laser is typical. Volkswagen has already ordered many 10s of these 8030 systems.
Box item 2
Latest version of TruTops
The latest edition of TruTops programming software is seeing customers gain improvements on throughput at the machine tool of up to 20%.
The latest versions for Punching, 2D Laser Cutting, Tube Processing and Bending have been designed and optimised to achieve the perfect balance between material utilisation and process security.
The latest development of the MiniNest function allows programmers to 'mix and match' parts, creating groups of nested parts to improve material utilisation, process efficiency and security, as well as aid part sorting. Whether TruTops is chosen to program a Trumpf laser or punching machine, users can benefit from this much improved feature. Across all processes, however, there have been improvements.
In TruTops Punch, for example, the optimisation of scrap separation and removal is making skeleton- free processing a real option for many customers. Once the required machining patterns have been prepared, they can be applied across multiple parts and contours. Through the utilisation of TwinLine processing and the automatic removal of any double strokes, program efficiency and security is assured.
TruTops Laser sees the introduction of new cutting strategies to help users improve their sheet utilisation, and the all new TubeNest functionality within TruTops Tube allows programmers to nest tubular parts along the full length on their tube materials.
In addition to these improvements, many behind-the-scenes changes have also taken place. TruTops now supports the very latest operating systems, including Windows 7 and various Windows Server Operating systems. In line with this, Trumpf is now using a brand new licensing system that does away with the old hardware dongle locks and moves instead to a new softlock licensing system. This switch allows a more flexible approach to the licensing of the TruTops products, allowing the license to move between computers, for example.
Box item 3
Synchro approach delivers benefits
An approach to process excellence through continuous improvement that Trumpf has used for a long time world-wide, called Synchro, is virtually unheard of in the UK, offers managing director Scott Simpson. At its heart is the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) feedback loop that drives continuous problem solving. "Synchro can be adapted to anything, manufacturing or offices, but an interesting example is in improving machine installation time," says Mr Simpson.
The installation process has been broken down into elements to make sure that this is carried out quickly and efficiently. So, the first is field-tailored packaging, with a goal of cutting unpacking time in half and eliminating search and transit times. Using tools such as 5S, standards (checklists, chronology), ergonomics, poka yoke and visualisation, this delivers a set of to dos. These are pack items in harmony with the chronological sequence of their requirement by the installer; create illustrated packing lists and attach to packages; and compile a handbook for service engineers.
Follow-on stages comprise site inspection prior to installation to eliminate problems arising and negatively impacting installation time. This has opened up an opportunity to sell 'machine conveyancing to its final operating station' as service, in fact.
A standardised assembly process, using modular workplans with associated timings, is the next element, with this also feeding back into machine design to support simplification of installation.
Then follows tooling, which sees first the very latest tool used to aid rapid installation, with those tools packaged chronologically so that they follow the installation process, in similar vein to field-tailored packaging.
Installation feedback is crucial, with customers contacted by a third-party company and asked for their comments. These then feed back into the continuous improvement loop.
The results of this application of Synchro to machine installation has seen process times cut by 30% for the TruLaser 5030, TruMatic 3000 punch press, TruPunch 3000, and TruBend 3000er. Totalling the hour savings equates to the potential saving of 17 technicians' capacity in a full year, or an installation cost saving of €2.4 million.
First published in Machinery, May 2012
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