Laser Technology
By Lynn Stanley, senior editor
Active Speed Control allows the TruLaser 5030 fiber laser to automatically increase feed rates while adapting to material changes and maintaining part quality.
Getting ahead
Automation and high-speed cutting coupled with web-based demonstrations help fabricators thrive despite pandemic

n 1849, thousands of people faced boom or bust when they left their homes and jobs to pan for precious metal in the California Gold Rush. These days, depending on the industry, manufacturers are facing a boom or bust cycle of a different sort. “Due to COVID-19, markets such as food equipment are seeing declines in products like stainless cookware,” says Brett Thompson, sales engineer for Trumpf Inc.

“Companies that are making parts such as shelving components for Amazon or parts for all-terrain vehicles and RVs—any type of vehicle that can be used for isolated recreational activities—are busy, and in some cases experiencing a backlog,” he continues. “People aren’t afraid to spend money, they are just spending it differently.”

Trumpf has also seen an increase in sales for its fiber lasers, in particular its TruLaser 5030 12 kW machine. Customers cite capacity issues and increases in outsourcing. “We’ve seen that customers who manufacture home gym and exercise equipment have found a need for additional fiber lasers from us,” Thompson says. “That business sector is booming.”

Regardless of industry, people want to make a part as inexpensively as possible.
Brett Thompson, Trumpf Inc.
Pandemic-induced global supply chain disruptions and subsequent lockdowns have also raised interest in reshoring activities. The influx of parts has affected capacity levels for companies and prompted an uptick in purchases for automated fiber laser systems.

“Regardless of the industry though, at the end of the day, people want to make a part as inexpensively as possible,” says Thompson. Contact with customers is limited due to social distancing guidelines, but Thompson says he is reaching a broader range of customers with weekly and biweekly webinars. Automation has proved to be a big draw. “People are plugging into automation to be more competitive,” he adds.

The TruLaser 5030 12 kW fiber laser can provide semi-automated or fully automated processing. Day shifts can run in semi-automated mode with Trumpf’s LiftMaster Compact and PartMaster. A synchronous loader boosts productivity with parallel loading and unloading. The PartMaster promotes ergonomic parts sorting. The LiftMaster Compact and TruStore supports a fully automated night shift. The PartMaster belt is flexibly stored in TruStore. Productivity is enhanced with user-friendly removal of overnight processed sheets.

Trumpf’s high-speed Eco nozzles are designed to boost feed rate by as much as 100 percent for fiber lasers that cut with nitrogen. In addition to faster feed rates, the machine’s piercing process is also faster. The nozzle’s unique design allows operators to cut with less gas. The high-speed process runs with 40 percent less nitrogen while the high-speed Eco can process parts using 70 percent less nitrogen. A job shop saves on consumables and enjoys lower part costs.

Automated with a LiftMaster Compact, TruStore and PartMaster, the TruLaser 5030 fiber laser provides an integrated system for part quality and higher output.
Speed control
“Our Active Speed Control feature regulates speed to increase a job shop’s productivity,” says Thompson. “It can keep pace with automation or slow the fiber laser down. If the material you are running has rust or a pocket of silica the Active Speed Control slows the machine down. Once it hits good material, the fiber laser will run as fast as it can. Throughput is increased. It’s really the first step to parameterless operation.”

During standard fiber laser processing, the operator selects material parameters. The TruLaser 5030 fiber laser responds and adapts to material type and changes. Time estimates performed on the TruLaser 5030 have demonstrated cutting speeds 8 percent higher than that of standard fiber lasers.

“We complement our time studies with demonstrations,” Thompson says. “We might have an applications technician at our Santa Clara, California, location running the fiber laser, with a customer in another state and me at our Farmington, Connecticut, facility narrating what the customer is seeing. We have cameras inside the fiber laser that can give the customer a close-up view of the cutting process.”

Thompson says he conducts two to three web-based demonstrations per day. “People are beginning to see that with the technology we have, conducting business remotely can be a positive experience,” he continues. “It’s becoming our new normal.”

Kilowattage requirements are expected to increase along with more automation requirements for material handling and sorting. Trumpf is also looking to be proactive about integrating more smart technology features into its machines.

“People will continue to ask the question, ‘Am I making the best part at the best price?’” Thompson says. “That’s what speed and technology really gives us.”

Trumpf Inc.,
Farmington, Connecticut, 860/255-6000,