FERRAL Systems B.V, based in Holland, manufactures steel and aluminium structures, primarily for the greenhouse industry. Its Balliu LTC 13000 tube cutting laser machine, capable of cutting 13-metre length tubes, is the longest of its type in the world.
The length is significant as the tubes are delivered on 13m length trucks - a standard shipping length. Camtek worked closely with Balliu to provide support for the machine's advanced features by enhancing its PEPS TubeCut CAD/CAM module functionality.
The PEPS TubeCut was installed at Ferral with five days training provided. Main programmer Guido Hofstede commented: "We found the system very flexible and easy to learn - an engineer only needs basic understanding of AutoCAD to use it.
“Features such as the diagonal cut allow us to cut straight through a pipe or tube and still be able to place a plate under an angle."
The precision cutting and ease of design makes it possible to inbuild into tube construction parts various and sophisticated assembly and preassembly features.
The specialised design allows to simplify substantially the assembly of final products or auxiliary assembly of parts to be welded. Lasers can be used to cut complex hole geometries in tubes and pipes of complex profiles and section shapes.
Hole openings can be layout using TubeCut various pattern capabilities. They can be placed on flat tube sides overlapping them if required or as a spiral along the cylindrical tube. Tubes can be prepared for hand bending to eliminate weld setup time.
The practical implementation of these sophisticated tube innovations is provided by flexibility and power of TubeCut design and NC programming capabilities.
Many of the structures that Ferral manufactures require parts to be welded together. A new parametric clipping feature was designed using SolidCut Laser that allowed construction parts to be slotted and screwed in place practically eliminating welding.
This provided substantial benefits to the customer - parts were easier to pack and ship and they were less prone to damage during transportation. Customers could now assemble the parts during installation.
There were also knock-on effects within Ferral's production processes, as the parts only required 4-5 minutes additional laser time to cut locks as opposed to 20 minutes of manual welding.
Guido commented: "Customers like the concept that nothing is welded, and some are even investing in special tools to assemble parts faster."
As a customer under maintenance Ferral receives regular software updates. Said Guido: "The 3D design and design editing functions have been added to and enhanced. We can select multiple cuts and place them elsewhere. Later versions further reduced the number of head movements, delivering a reduction in cutter time due to improved NC code."
Ferral is looking into the possibility of expanding production capacity by adding a second tube cutting machine, as they are already running at 90% capacity across two shifts. Guido concluded: "We have seen a 30% increase in business over the last 12 months, and in that time we have seen many changes within SolidCut Laser. We chose the system for two main reasons - Camtek has experience in creating software for cutting machines and also because of the short line of communication between software and hardware vendor. We've been able to increase our customer base because of the new services we can provide in tube cutting. SolidCut Laser is a vital link in the cycle."
PEPS Laser Cutting system allows users to cover efficiently all their laser cutting requirements using 5-Axis PentaCut, 3/6-Axis TubeCut and 2-Axis PEPSFAB.
Says Mark Goldfeld, Camtek Pacific managing director: "The usage of laser cutting technology is growing faster than any other machining application. As a rule within a short time frame our customers are adding new machines to their existing range or have moved from their first machine 3 years ago to the battery of 2-3 machines today. PEPS provides support for the new machines covering completely their advanced functionality."
This tendency is including not only the number of machines but their power, efficiency and the range of machining capabilities. 5-Axis Laser Cutting, 3/6-Axis Tube Cutting, Combination Laser Cutting machines are spreading very fast all over Australia.
Unique Laser Cutting (WA) has added Mazak HyperGear 2D laser cutter to its 5-Axis SpaceGear laser cutter; Laser Cutting Technology (WA) has added Trumpf 2-Axis laser cutter to its 5-Axis Mazak SpaceGear laser cutter; Laser 3D (VIC) has added Trumpf 5-axis and two Trumpf 2-Axis to its battery of laser cutters and added PEPS 3/6-Axis TubeCut and 2-Axis PEPSFAB to the PEPS 5-Axis PentaCut software.
By using PEPS Laser Cutting Suite, not only will programming time be minimal, but also the eventual cut-path will be much more efficient, saving further time on the machine.
Add in the comprehensive simulation and proofing tools and you have a system which not only streamlines day to day production, but also reduces costly errors and removes dry-runs.
PentaCut pays for itself with each of these features alone. The software is available through resellers and OEMs worldwide. American Machinist awarded PEPS CAD/CAM NC/CNC programming system for "Best Service and Technical Support".