TW Metals, a leading supplier of high-performance metals with a global turnover of £710 million, has invested in a new 10kW TRUMPF TruLaser 3060 fibre for one of its UK facilities. The company describes the large 6 m bed laser cutter, which is the first of its type in the UK, as a “game changer” as it has eliminated the time/cost issues associated with using subcontract resources and is now fulfilling next-day delivery demands.
The market segment occupied by the Speciality Distribution business unit of TW Metals has particular focus on materials for critical and hazardous environments, often in sectors such as nuclear, petrochemical, oil and gas, medical and automotive (a separate business unit serves the aerospace industry).
“We’re far from a standard stockholder,” explains Mike Street, Vice President Europe - Speciality Distribution. “We talk to our customers about their pain points and issues, from which we create material proposals that include service provision to manage flow through their supply chain.”
Introducing a state-of-the-art laser cutter to its repertoire of services was a natural step for this progressive-thinking company, which is both ISO9001 and AS9100 accredited.
Explains Mr Street: “The provision of machined or first-stage components is becoming an increasingly common request. We had a plasma cutter for this purpose, but knew a laser cutter would be ideal for our corrosion-resistant and heat-resistant nickel alloys, which extend from thin gauge sheet up to 30mm thick. It would also help us introduce other product ranges, like thin gauge sheets in stainless steel and aluminium.”
Selecting the 6m bed option for the TruLaser 3060 fibre provides TW Metals with a market advantage as it can handle much larger raw material. In addition, the company can get preferential pricing from the mills as they have less processing to undertake, while the large bed also means TW Metals can accommodate four or five large offcuts simultaneously for overnight cutting, should the need arise.
To provide an indication of capability, the 10kW TRUMPF TruLaser 3060 fibre can process stainless steel up to 30 mm thick. Stand-out features include the proprietary Highspeed Eco function, which is helping users such as TW Metals to consume up to 70% less gas while simultaneously achieving 100% higher productivity and feed rate.
“Although the TruLaser is not yet fully utilised we’re filling it much faster than we anticipated,” says Mr Street. “We have a budget for the machine and we’ve managed to exceed that every month so far. Whereas our previous plasma machine would just cut blocks, the TruLaser has added new dimensions in terms of design and intricate profiling that the plasma was unable to offer, not to mention the dramatically faster cutting speed.”
TW Metals delivers on a next-day basis, so reaction time is key to meeting the service demands of customers.
“The TruLaser 3060 fiber is a game-changer for our customer service because we were previously having to use a subcontractor whenever a request came in for laser-cut parts,” concludes Mr Ellis. “These parts were sometimes taking weeks to arrive and, because we were a small customer to the subcontractor, we were never top of their priority list. The arrival of the TRUMPF machine has changed all that.”