9 April 2014

Five-axis TRUMPF will extend cutting and welding capability at Cirrus Laser

Burgess Hill-based Cirrus Laser, one of the south’s leading laser and waterjet cutting job shops, has ordered a new TRUMPF TruLaser Cell 3000 five-axis laser processing system. Capable of both cutting and welding on the same platform, the machine will be the first of its type in the UK when it arrives later this year.

“Numerous customers are requesting that we undertake their welding requirements as a secondary operation to laser profiling,” explains David Connaway, Managing Director at Cirrus Laser. “The TRUMPF TruLaser Cell 3000 five-axis system will be added as a workstation to our existing TruLaser 5030 fiber flatbed laser. Of enormous benefit to our customers is TRUMPF’s 2 in 1 Fiber that delivers the laser beam. In essence, this comprises one core inside another, which means one core is optimised for cutting and the other for welding. Therefore there is no compromise to either process and the end customer receives the best possible part in each case.”

Described by TRUMPF as the most comprehensive laser processing centre available, the TruLaser Cell 3000 combines the best features of its predecessors in terms of versatility, quality, productivity and dynamics in a single, highly practical solution. No other standard machine on the market currently offers a comparable range of functions.

Rather than moving the workpiece itself, the TruLaser Cell 3000 moves its optics around the workpiece. Mounted to the bottom of the Z-axis is a tilting process head that can rotate through an angle of ±135°. The head is synchronised with a rotary axis to give full 3D process capability. Furthermore, the rotary axis can be orientated horizontally or vertically to suit customer requirements.

While the five-axis TruLaser Cell 3000 will use the laser source on Cirrus Laser’s existing TruLaser 5030 fiber, switching between the two could not be easier. There is no configuration or unplugging of leads – everything is software driven and can be activated at the push of a button. This will help facilitate greater flexibility and machine utilisation at Cirrus Laser.
Successful welding trials of several existing Cirrus components were completed recently on a TruLaser Cell 3000 at TRUMPF in Germany. These parts included security enclosures for tablet devices that are currently TIG welded, and 5mm thick steel office screening components. Numerous cutting applications were also carried out.

“As well as existing products, we will be using the new machine to add value to components that are presently cut by Cirrus but welded by third party suppliers,” says Mr Connaway. “Furthermore, in the future we hope to attract many new customers – the machine will be perfect for trimming flash from automotive and aerospace parts, as well as adding apertures to existing pressings or assemblies.”

Another benefit for Cirrus Laser is that parts which are presently TIG welded off-site subsequently require cleaning-up before painting. Establishing a laser welding resource in-house will not only save on subcontract costs, but produce welded assemblies that can go straight to painting with minimal or no clean-up.

The high performance of the TruLaser Cell 3000 is attributable to the sophisticated laser control system and its adjustable beam forming optics, which enable the focus position and diameter to be modified as easily as the shutter speed and aperture on a digital camera. The focus position is adapted automatically to the thickness of the material being processed.
Furthermore, the focus diameter can be widened by up to four times the diameter of a fibre in the fibre optic cable. This reduces non-productive time significantly, especially during welding operations.

“At present we work 24 hours a day for about 30 weeks of the year, and we’ve kind of reached a plateau on the amount of flatbed work available in our area,” says Mr Connaway. “The arrival of the TruLaser Cell 3000 will help Cirrus Laser move towards 24 hour operation - 52 weeks a year, by attracting work that we cannot currently pursue. Ultimately it will offer genuine competitive advantage.”

Image: Gerry Jones (left) of TRUMPF and Dave Connoway of Cirrus Laser

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