In the last seven to eight years, solid-state lasers have come to dominate laser welding and cutting,” said Tom Bailey, product specialist for Trumpf Inc. (Farmington, CT). While Trumpf still produces CO2 lasers, for most applications solid-state lasers literally outshine them.
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In our May webinar titled “Lasers in Manufacturing: State of the Art in 2018,” we noted the emergence of some novel technologies to produce the “holy grail” of laser welding: spatter-free joins with no porosity and, when required, highly aesthetic outcomes.
To stay current with technology and peer into the future of manufacturing, take a look at our preview of IMTS—The International Manufacturing Technology Show, to be held at McCormick Place in Chicago from Sept. 10 through Sept. 15. In the following pages, ME provides in-depth examinations of each pavilion at IMTS, as well as previews of the products you will be able to see displayed at exhibitors’ booths.
Additive manufacturing (AM) pioneer Charles Hull introduced the first commercial 3D printer, the SLA-1, in 1987. Jaws dropped, machinists wondered about their next career, pundits said it spelled the death of traditional manufacturing. None of that happened, thankfully; in fact, some said 3D printing was a bunch of hype, good for little more than investment casting patterns and proof of concept prototypes.
Constant refinement of medical machining from tooling design to finished product requires not only the ability to handle a broad range of plastic and metal materials but also to achieve predictable results—particularly in the face of strict regulations.
Basic trends in modern manufacturing are driving growth in 3D optical metrology. “One is the highly complex and high-tech material that manufacturers are using today. For example, in the aerospace turbine blade market, they simply cannot touch the part like they used to—the surface finish of the material is too readily affected by any kind of contact metrology."
For ABB, robotic welding comes down to a never-ending process of ensuring parts are suitable for laser joining and developing the appropriate processes. To that end, ABB is refining a recent innovation to improve beam delivery speeds and has developed software for on-the-fly welding in tandem with Trumpf’s Intelligent Programmable Focusing Optic (IPFO).
Like its products, technology demands for thyssenkrupp Elevator Corp. are “going up.” A business unit of ThyssenKrupp Elevator AG, the company oversees all business operations in the US, Canada, and Central and South America, and says it is the largest producer of elevators in the Americas, with 13,500 employees, more than 200 branches and service locations, and sales of $2.7 billion.
Your father’s Oldsmobile may be long gone but his B-52 is still pulling missions, and they haven’t built the “BUFF” (Big Ugly Fat Fellow) since 1962. The last KC-135 tanker was built in 1965. Besides aging warbirds (the average plane in the US Air Force is over 28 years old) there are hundreds of ancient civilian airliners carrying friendlier payloads everyday. The key to doing this safely is of course excellent maintenance and periodic upgrades. Laser scanning plays an essential role.
Strong 2016 earnings among top industrial laser providers, continued brisk adoption of fiber lasers, cheaper ultrafast lasers, and a host of novel applications and notable corporate acquisitions signal a big year ahead for photonics-based manufacturing.