Laser 3D printing and marking systems are among the heavy-duty cutting and welding systems that had been scheduled for the IMTS Fabricating and Laser Pavilion—testament to the growing impact of what once might have been viewed as ancillary processes.
Automation, process monitoring and full digital platform integration are among the key topics in laser fabrication and automation.
Trumpf Inc., Farmington, Conn., had planned to unveil three new products, said Jack Pennuto Jr. director of sales for the company’s laser division.The first he discussed is the TruLaser Station 7000, which features a larger work area in a footprint similar to earlier models. It will also provide users full 3D motion with coordinated axes for complex welding and cutting. It also adds offline program for greater production flexibility “and integration of our vision sensor system, VisionLine Detect, to ensure high process reliability of laser welds,” Pennuto said. The TruLaser platform has been widely used in small- and medium-batch production.
The second product Pennuto provided information about is aimed at permanent laser marking, or engraving. This is the new TruMark 6030 marker, with a focus adjustment feature to perform marking on complex 3D surfaces. “This adds a significant dimension in applying human or machine-readable characters as well as data-matrix codes onto complex parts,” he said. “Whether it is serialization, traceability or simply component numbering, the design of the TruMark 6030 and its new software features enable marking on a wide range of materials, surface finishes and contours along a robust process window to ensure repeatability in production.”
Finally, to address the growing adoption of metal additive manufacturing, Trumpf created the TruPrint 2000 system, offering “a unique combination of process speed, build volume and price point to address a broad audience.” The platform’s multi-laser processing and feature size capabilities, along with inert powder preparation, supports a wide range of materials that can be relevant to numerous industries and applications. The early interest has been in medical and aerospace applications.
“From a production automation standpoint, there is a drive towards broader adoption—and that is moving into the medium- and low-volume manufacturing segments,” Pennuto added. “We have worked with a number of cobots for loading and unloading of the TruLaser Station and TruMark station, and we expect that to be a topic for discussion.”
Trumpf also planned to feature its Chicago Smart Factory concept, he added. “Our condition monitoring services illustrate the potential for preventative maintenance and downtime avoidance through the aggregation and monitoring of the sensors that are built into our lasers and systems.”
Appealing to an array of users, Coherent Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., had planned to feature adjustable mode welding (ARM), high-precision cutting, marking and additive systems.
Coherent’s ring-and-core beam ARM system for welding has achieved qualification in automotive applications for joining tough materials and joining without filler material, explained Geoff Shannon, director of marketing, materials processing at Coherent.
“We’ll be coming out with a new variant of the ARM technology, a single-mode version targeting thinner-gauge material, where you only need 2 to 3 kW of power,” he said. The single-mode core will “drive absorption into these generally conductive and thin materials or mixed-material combinations. The outer ring lets you stabilize the welding process.”
E-mobility and electrical welding applications are especially suited for single-mode ARM, he added. “We’re able to weld 60 to 70 layers of very thin foil—typically 10-μm thick each—which is a real challenge.”
For additive manufacturing, Coherent’s entry-level Creator machine offers users a lower-cost way to get into this rapidly growing area. “We also have direct-energy deposition units for repair work and cladding.”
Automated marking solutions are also being emphasized, as well as a high-precision flatbed cutter that offers much better resolution than typical large flatbeds, but in a small footprint.
Some members of the medical device community are likely to be interested in precision laser cutting, where applications demand accuracy down to ± 5-10 μm, noted Shannon.
As more brand owners seek to trace more product through more of the process chain, more small fabrication shops are investing in laser marking systems, according to Dave Noonan, vice president, marking division for Dapra Corp., Bloomfield, Conn. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, “the aerospace market has been hot, gaining wider acceptance to laser marking,” he said.
Among the solutions Dapra is featuring include multiple Rotary D axis accessories “since so many companies stumble with providing 360º marking of round parts that need to be chucked,” Noonan said. “We also have data-matrix verification equipment, which is most important to those in the aerospace, DOD and medical industries.”
Dapra is launching a new, lower-cost, internationally sourced system available in 20, 30 or 50 W, as well as showcasing:
“We are also emphasizing our ability to provide custom solutions requiring larger cabinets and multiple axes,” Noonan added.
He expects Dapra customers “to be working with alloys and metals of all types. Of course there will be an assortment that are looking for traceability on plastics, polymers and more.”
Meanwhile, Trotec Laser Inc., Plymouth, Mich., is featuring its SpeedMarker series, said Andrew Wellons, industrial market manager. “With a combination of intelligent software and high-quality hardware, SpeedMarker lasers produce permanent, durable markings for applications such as bar coding data matrix codes, serialization and deep engraving.”
SpeedMarker, offered with various size, wattage and customization and integration options, are paired with SpeedMark, an intuitive, user-friendly software that “not only centrally controls the laser process but also offers automation-friendly interfaces for connecting external data and control commands,” said Wellons. Optional SpeedMark Vision–Smart Adjust is a camera-aided positioning tool for precise laser marking, even on the smallest components.
Industry 4.0 connectivity is playing a greater role in laser marking systems, he added, as fabricators seek “to fully integrate marking and engraving systems into their overall production processes, including associated machinery and databases like ERP and SAP.” These systems are increasingly being asked to share machine data, material batch data and other product data for process control to achieve full-life traceability. “Customizable marking programs from simple, direct input to fully automated marking will become more useful,” said Wellons.
In terms of materials being marked, “we anticipate deep engraving and marking onto metal and plastic using fiber and MOPA lasers to be common, along with a focus on asset-tracking information,” he added.
Greenerd Press & Machine Co., Nashua, N.H., is featuring the company’s hydraulic press and automation capabilities. “The market is increasingly requiring automation to boost labor productivity and safety, as well as preferring a more integrated offering to reduce complexity,” said Jerry Letendre, CEO of Greenerd. “We are seeing an increase in demand for automated and fully integrated press lines, and as a FANUC Tier 1 Authorized Integrator with significant experience in turnkey press systems, we have welcomed this.”
In addition to providing unlimited size and tonnage press solutions for increasingly stringent requirements from aerospace, defense and other industries, Greenerd’s custom hydraulic presses incorporate a range of advanced features, including the latest functionality, the use of more advanced control methods for precise control to achieve greater positional accuracy and stroke repeatability, the intelligent use of sensor data, and detailed process monitoring, among other features.
According to Letendre, Greenerd provides a complete, fully integrated production system so manufacturers do not need to have several different equipment providers and integrate everything separately on their own.
OMAX is showcasing its 80X waterjet. Adding the Tilt-A-Jet provides advanced automated taper compensation, attaining virtually zero taper for parts with square, taper-free edges, according to the company. With the IntelliMAX Software Suite and elite EnduroMAX Pump, the 80X machine cuts a wide range of materials and thicknesses, from metals to advanced composites to glass. OMAX offers unlimited IntelliMAX software upgrades for the life of the machine, unlimited software seats, and free training for life. OMAX Corp. 253-872-2300 / www.omax.com
The portable Rocklinizer deposits precise amounts of extremely hard material onto metals, tools and dies. The proprietary low-heat, spark-deposition process alleviates metal-on-metal wear, boosts gripping, and restores dimensions, ultimately extending the useful life of equipment while minimizing downtime, inventory, and new capital expenditures, according to the manufacturer. Applications include eliminating slug pull back in punching and stamping operations; extending the life of cutting edges; preventing die casting wear; and optimizing gripping for tube bending dies, collets, clamps, and robot grippers, among others. Rocklin Manufacturing Co. 800-255-6046 / www.rocklinmfg.com
Bluco fixturing and ALM positioners can be combined to create solutions designed to hold and position multiple parts with one modular kit, helping keep welders safe and weldment more precise, according to the company. Positioners allow 360° rotation of a part to eliminate heavy lifting and allow for more comfortable welding. The products are compatible with 400+ modular components. Bluco modular tooling and ALM positioners can be combined to provide high-quality workholding solutions designed to handle variable-sized or large, heavy parts for easier welding.Bluco 800-535-0135 / www.Bluco.com
LNA’s universal CNC laser processing workstations are designed for applications such as laser welding, cutting and drilling. Both the VLW (welder) and the VLC/D (cutter/driller) versions are configured with a T-slotted base plate to receive tooling and make processing setups easy, according to LNA. The VLC/D is equipped with a cutting box flexible enough to allow flat material cutting, or attachment of custom tools for holding parts for cutting or drilling. All configurations are available with an optional plug-and-play rotary axis and a variety of focal lengths and power levers.LNA Laser Technology 401-724-0076 / www.lnalaser.com
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