DBG Canada Ltd. prides itself on being a “concept-to-finished-products company.” But even as a full-line provider, the company counts on strong industry partners to deliver quality products to its customers—something DBG has done for more than 45 years.
Such relationships have become even more important as DBG continues to expand its operations, both from geographic and customer-base standpoints. To this end, DBG has teamed with Prima Power North America Inc., Arlington Heights, Ill., on advanced 3D-laser systems for its growing automotive business. The latest machines, which were designed specifically for demanding automotive applications, have yielded an impressive 40-percent productivity gain.
In 1976, Joe De Biasi started operations as a tool and die manufacturer when he opened a small, four-person company called De Biasi Tool and Machine Ltd. Five decades later, that company has transformed into DBG (the De Biasi Group), based in Mississauga, Ontario.
Today, DBG consists of five facilities in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. It supplies OEM customers with prototyping, “in-house” and third-party tool and die, advanced metal stamping, metal fabrication, welding, value-added assembly, and customer-delivered line sequencing with single-digit part-per-million defect rates.
In 2017, DBG established its U.S. headquarters with the acquisition of IC Bus in Conway, Ark. DBG supplies the heavy-truck, automotive, agriculture, and commercial industries as a Tier 1 and Tier 2 provider of custom-metal products. The Conway facility had been a leader in bus assembly and then bus component fabrication since the 1960s.
Located on 62 acres [0.25 sq km], DBG’s Conway site includes two facilities with more than 250 associates. The 375,000 sq-ft [34,839 sq-m] Facility 1 houses fabrication, paint, welding, and assembly operations; Facility 2, 174,000 sq-ft [16,165 sq-m], includes stamping, fabrication, welding, and assembly.
The two facilities can accommodate both low- and high-volume applications. In addition to stamped and fabricated components, DBG Conway provides welded (robotic and manual) and modular/cell assemblies (doors, lower lining, luggage boxes, fuel tanks, and step wells). Other capabilities include:
--Tool, die and fixture (check & quality) design and production
-- Paint capabilities
After the acquisition, DBG made a substantial investment in equipment for the Conway facility. Part of the allocation covered a Prima Power 3-kW, 3D Laser Next, which was installed in early 2019.
Noting that DBG previously purchased four 2D CO2 lasers from Prima Power, Keith Stone, assistant general manager, said the company was aware of its laser capabilities. “We currently utilize the Laser Next for cutting exterior and interior caps for school buses, wheel pocket pans for school buses, and we also cut some flat material on the machine,” he added.
Automotive part manufacturers need highly specialized products for the cutting of sheet-metal parts, capable of meeting specific requirements and myriad shapes and sizes. To this end, 3D-laser cutting takes advantage of the flexibility of the laser tool and applies it to complex three-dimensional parts that can be processed on this multi-axis machine.
Thanks to more than 35 years of experience in this field—and continuous dialogue with industry partners and customers—Prima Power was able to design its Laser Next 3D-laser machine specifically for automotive production. The fiber-laser technology used in the Prima Power machines enables the needed flexibility while maintaining high productivity, quality, and efficiency levels, with minimal maintenance requirements.
The fiber laser features make Prima Power 3D machines suited for a wide-range of materials, mainly high-strength steels (HSS). In fact, to improve vehicle safety and reduce fuel consumption in the automotive industry, the manufacturing of lightweight HSS body parts has steadily increased, Stone said, noting 3D laser cutting is the ideal solution to respond to this market request.
Laser Next is the world’s fastest 3D-laser machine, according to Prima Power, and is available in two sizes (1530 and 2130) to meet virtually any automotive production need. It allows “exceptionally low cycle times and excellent cutting quality.” The Laser Next also provides higher overall equipment efficiency, the company said, due to reduced downtime and maintenance. There are fewer dedicated resources and no special skills are needed, allowing for simplified maintenance.
“As far as service and maintenance are concerned, the cost is much less than what we experienced with the previous equipment,” Stone said. “During the last couple of years, we know that COVID adversely affected all machine builders in their ability to service customers. However, Prima Power has been able to go above and beyond to provide the service that we couldn’t get from our other machine builders,” he added.
In developing Laser Next, Prima Power focused on several user benefits. For example, it features a compact, space-efficient layout, both for stand-alone and multi-machine configurations, that also makes it easy and fast to install, the company noted. In fact, it’s possible to install four Laser Next machines in the same space of three units of the previous model. Considering the performance of Laser Next, its productivity per square meter is “simply astonishing,” Prima Power asserted.
Laser Next is focused on the production of hot-stamped steel components. It’s designed, developed, manufactured, and tested specifically for such applications—and the results speak for themselves.
During the last 10 years, the performance of Prima Power 3D-laser machines for automotive applications has grown steadily. With Laser Next, a significant step forward was made on a benchmark component (B-pillar), with a 25-percent jump in productivity. In other words, four Laser Next systems produce as much as five machines of the previous model.
Laser Next has a working range of 3,050 x 1,530 x 612 mm and is equipped with a 3- or 4-kW high-brilliance fiber laser. Its compact focusing head, fully sealed for protection, features direct-drive motors, double protection SIPS, a fully metallic sensor, and a Focal Position Control.
The high-precision and dynamic turntable with servo motor and absolute encoder is designed to ensure the highest reliability, safety, and ergonomics, according to Prima Power. With the blocking times, the distance between table and light curtains is very short, allowing faster and more comfortable loading/unloading operations in full safety.
“The Laser Net has increased our productivity by 40 percent,” Stone attested. “Our cut quality has also greatly increased, and we have eliminated secondary operations, such as deburring. And the Laser Next is a very impressive machine when customers visit our shop,” he concluded.
For information about DBG, visit https://dbgcanada.com/company or call 905-670-1555. For information on Prima Power visit www.primapower.com or call 847-952-6500.
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