Thick sheet, cut nimbly Using eight kilowatts of power, three companies cut really thick sheet metal — and tell us about the advantages.

Clinton Howe, Rolf Schages and Jürgen Schröder (from left to right) use the TruFlow 8000 to cut sheet metal up to 50 millimeters thick.

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Thick sheet, cut nimbly

Cutting sheet metal 50 millimeters thick? For the machines in the TruLaser 5000 series, that’s easy as pie! Those models feature a TruFlow laser generating eight kilowatts of power. Three test customers tell us how their manufacturing operations exploit this great amount of energy.

Clinton Howe, Branch Manager WA, Sandvik Materials Technology

“Our firm is the Australian subsidiary of the Sandvik Group, headquartered in Sweden. Our forte in processing is sheet metal from three to 25 millimeters thick. A thirty-year history in plasma cutting has been complemented this past ten years by investments including six TRUMPF lasers.

Early in 2012, we started using the TruLaser 5030, equipped with the TruFlow 8000 CO2 laser. We use the 8-kilowatt laser to cut stainless steel exclusively, both in standard types but also more exotic types. The new machine has shown capability to cut sheets as much as 50 millimeters in thickness. The speed is impressive and the quality of the cut edge is excellent — particularly through the commercially important mid-range thicknesses where our stocking strength lies.

Much clean-up work is eliminated for our clients and with these stainless grades — often difficult to drill or machine — it is a real winner. The accuracy provided by laser has seen significant transfer across from plasma for those more intricate shapes or where ready-to-weld parts greatly speed up assembly for our customers. However, we don’t use this machine just for heavy-gauge stainless steel.

We also use the TruFlow 8000 to cut sheets down to just 0.55 millimeters thick. In the past, using the plasma system, we couldn’t work sheet less than 2 millimeters thick. This means that the laser has expanded the spectrum of our offerings to clients. This new technology helps us supply our customers with ready-to-fabricate components for everything from mining equipment to pipe supports for the natural gas industry, parts for truck-mounted cranes, furnace components, even signage and sculptures. The variety of end-uses is vast.

Using the TruFlow 8000 in the TruLaser 5030 makes us the most modern and capable stainless stockist and processing organisation in Australia. That has enabled us to grow appreciably this past year in the Western Australian market.”

Rolf Schages, Schages GmbH & Co. KG

“We respond to our customers’ wishes quickly, flexibly, and when they need us. That’s our strength. A job shop has to offer versatility, and that includes cutting heavy-gauge sheet. In the past, we couldn’t handle anything thicker than 30 millimeters. Our lasers simply couldn’t cut sheet that thick. But that was yesterday. Today we have the right tool for parts this heavy: the new TruLaser 5030, fitted with the TruFlow 8000 CO2 laser.

With eight kilowatts of power, this laser can cut through stainless steel as thick as 50 millimeters, aluminum up to 25 millimeters. It follows that we can also use this 2D laser cutting machine for parts we used to cut by chip removal. Efficient nesting of the parts on the sheet helps us make full use of the material.

We also use the 8-kilowatt laser to cut stainless steel at more conventional gauges. Why? Its higher power output boosts cutting speed, and that reduces processing times. When fusion cutting sheet metal upwards of 12 millimeters, we are as much as 33 percent faster than with a 6-kilowatt laser. In the range from 15 to 20 millimeters, we achieve speeds that are 20 percent higher.

Consequently, the new TruLaser 5030 has not only expanded our range to include even thicker sheet. We can also offer our work at lower prices. Another positive point is the quality of the cutting edge on stainless steel 20 and 25 millimeters thick. It is far smoother than in the past and is achieved with the BrightLine function.”

Jürgen Schröder, PS Laser GmbH & Co. KG

 “As a job shop we offer everything — assuming that you’re talking about sheet metal. Specializing in certain materials is out of the question for our shop. Our 14 laser systems cover the entire range of sheet metal fabrication. That includes 2D and 3D laser cutting, tube processing, and laser welding. We can select exactly the right laser unit for every material and every gauge.

The new 8-kilowatt laser by TRUMPF fits this strategy perfectly. Using the TruLaser 5040 with the TruFlow 8000, we were able to expand our cutting capacities in stainless steel to as much as 50 millimeters. When cutting stainless steel thicker than 12 millimeters, this machine’s advantages really kick in. That is why we use it for parts between 12 and 50 millimeters thick — and for aluminum up to 20 millimeters thick. Production runs may range from one to one thousand pieces.

In the past we cut sheet metal up to 40 millimeters thick using six or seven kilowatts of laser power. The quality of the cut, however, was poorer and sometimes required touch-up work. Thanks to the higher cutting speeds, better cut quality, and greater process reliability with the 8-kilowatt laser, we have become significantly more competitive in heavier stainless steel.

A major contributor to properly handling this massive laser power is the mirror cutting head. It is entirely dependable and highly resistant to malfunctions. The mirrors have long service lives and, as a result, the amount of wear — when compared to lens-based optics — is low.”


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This article was first published in spring 2013.

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