Moreover, with TLCC already producing flat sheet-metal ventilator parts as part of the fight against the current Covid-19 pandemic, the new TruLaser Tube is helping the company bid competitively for tube-based parts needed for the same purpose.
Established in 1976, TLCC can cut round and square tube, structural open sections, beams and flat/bent metal components, delivering them to customers throughout the UK. Under the same roof, the company also undertakes bending, welding and sub-assembly services, backed by a large partner network of subcontractors for other processes.
The success of this 35-employee, family-run business is underpinned by continuous investment in the latest technology. So, with one of the company’s laser tube cutters approaching the end of its serviceable life, the search began for a suitable replacement.
Explains director Charlie Day: “We are heavily focused on processing innovative tube design, so this investment in the Trumpf TruLaser Tube 7000 will further enhance our capability and capacity in this area. Although we’re a subcontractor, our customer slogan is ‘your partner in production’, where we can add considerable value at the design stage. The Trumpf machine will support our efforts in this area, particularly with 6-axis 3D cutting and the flow drill and tapping attachment.”
Smart Design Production is the value-added aspect of TLCC’s business, an initiative that has seen the company deliver production cost savings for customers of up to 50% in some instances. Although laser tube cutting can replace conventional machining processes, such as drilling, sawing and milling, it is also now possible to perform threading operations in-cycle, replacing weak and time-consuming fixings such as nuts or rivets.
In the first machining step, the flow drill produces an extrusion that is followed by the cutting of a heavy duty thread. Sensors monitor the process and alert the operator if a tool breaks, for example.
Advantages such as the flow drill will provide a competitive edge, not least when trying to win work required by the healthcare sector as it looks to boost capacity due to coronavirus.
“Ultimately, having the TRumpf TruLaser Tube in place is helping us bid competitively for work that will benefit the Covid-19 effort,” says Day. “Among the tube-based work we are hoping to capture are medical apparatus and racking systems. Such items are essential if the system is to avoid becoming overwhelmed. A lot of this work appears to be in preparation for a potential second peak.”
TLCC is also waiting to hear back on bids for emergency bed parts required for the pop-up NHS Nightingale hospitals. Day says that having to bid for such work based on the company’s older tube laser would make it far less competitive.
“Investment in the Trumpf TruLaser Tube is helping us have a seat at the table for these new healthcare components,” the director says. “As well as providing cost savings, the introduction of the Trumpf machine brings a higher level of flexibility in an ever-changing environment. It will also see lead times reduce dramatically. The market is very competitive and lead times are vital, as is quality. Our parts need to be on time and correct, every time.
“By replacing machinery on a regular basis, we stay at the forefront of the sector, keeping up with the latest technology advances. The flow drill and tapping attachment is something that our customers have been requesting.”
And because the company sees so many different materials and sections passing through its works, the company opted for the unloading unit option to offload parts up to 6.5 m long.
Typical materials set to be processed on the Trumpf TruLaser Tube 7000 will include stainless steel, mild steel and aluminium, across 24/7 production operations.