Dimensional flexibility

02 Sep 2020

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

A new laser cell at GF Laser gives it the flexibility to switch quickly and easily between 2D and 3D cutting.

The Trumpf TruLaser Cell 5030 5-axis CNC laser-profiling machine is the first such machine in the UK and has boosted throughput speed at the company’s Dudley headquarters and manufacturing centre.

Founded in 2006, GF Laser supplies laser-cut parts to sectors such as automotive, yellow goods, construction, architecture and general fabrication. The company, which is ISO 9001:2015 accredited, has grown its turnover from £2 million to £3.5 million in the past three years, and today runs a 24/7 schedule over three shifts.

The new fibre laser cell complements an existing Trumpf CO2 5-axis machine.

“Since installation, the TruLaser Cell 5030 has been busy processing a multitude of different parts,” states Director Simon Tregillus. “Not only have we been using it as a 5-axis machine for profiling 3D components, we’ve also used it extensively for flat-bed cutting, which was one of the main reasons behind its selection. It’s been doing everything from the trimming of automotive pressings, spinnings and extrusions, through to components for the fire-retarding industry. It has probably been in 5-axis configuration 60% of the time, reverting to flat-bed format for the remaining 40% whenever we reach capacity on our existing trio of Trumpf 2D laser cutters.”

On a regular basis, the 4kW TRUMPF TruLaser Cell 5030 is processing parts from materials that include mild, galvanised and stainless steel, as well as aluminium. The company is also using the machine to profile pressings and spinnings made from yellow metals such as copper and brass. The machine, which offers a bed size of 3000 x 1500 mm, can also be used to process formed and straight tube, as well as box and angle section.

“Most of the parts we process on the TruLaser Cell 5030 are up to 5 mm in thickness, while typical batch sizes are circa 500,” says Mr Tregillus. “However, we can handle batches as small as 1 or 2-off as the machine is quick and easy to set up.”

By adopting fibre-based 5-axis laser profiling, the company has made significant gains in the speed of its output in comparison with CO2 technology. The faster speed of the machine’s electronic doors has also contributed to shorter cycle times.

“The big thing for us, however, is the flexibility of the TruLaser Cell 5030,” states Mr Tregillus. “The ability to use it as a flat-bed machine is hugely beneficial to a subcontracting business such as ours, which can never be entirely certain what will come through the door tomorrow, and in what quantity. We need to be flexible and fast-moving for our customers, so the TRUMPF TruLaser Cell 5030 is proving ideal.”