3D laser cutting is becoming increasingly utilised over a wide range of industries, with the majority of applications being in the automotive industry. Until now, the expense of setting up a 3D laser cell has, for even some of the large companies, been cost prohibitive.
Laser Resources Management’s long standing relationships with European OEMs has given it the ability to monitor new innovations in all forms of laser processing, and then select the products that are suited to the Australian industry, where equipment flexibility is paramount.
Therefore, Laser Resources introduced the Robocut laser robot, from Robot Technology about 3 years ago. With a number of successful Australian installations, LRM has made available the FLACS system from Robot Technology. The FLACS (Flexible Laser Cutting System) is an integrated system, including all the necessary components of a laser cutting system designed specifically for cutting plastic parts for the automotive industry. Included are the Robocut laser robot plus the cabin, fume and dust extraction, safety systems and provision for parts handling.
Robot Technology, a German company, was formed in 2001 and has since installed over 60 systems into the likes of Volkswagen, Johnson Controls, and Lear Corporation, and General Motors.
While primarily targeted at the automotive industry for the trimming/cutting of plastic moulded parts like pillar mouldings, door panels, trunk linings, headliners, etc, the Robocut is not however limited to these applications alone.
The partnering of a Rofin-Sinar 300 Watt Sealed Slab laser to an ABB IRB 4400 robot creates a system capable of cutting nearly all plastic combinations as well as thin sheet metal. The integration of the laser tube and the RF-power supply into the Robot arm eliminates excess cabling with just power and cooling water connections required at the Robot. The integral diode pointer simplifies the beam alignment process, while also removing some of the guess work out of cut path programming.
Reduced cycle times and part accessibility are achieved by the streamlined upper arm design. Assist gas is internally fed to the head so as to reduce the axis movement limitation, which can be a drawback on externally fed systems. Axes 4 and 5 of the Robocut are endlessly rotating so that reversed rotation of these axes after cutting, no longer increases cycle times.
The beam path consists of four integrated adjustable bending mirrors delivering the laser beam to a 3.75” focal length lens.
Performance data on the Robocut is more than impressive for a 3D laser cutting system, touting a maximum TCP (tool center point) speed of 2.2m/s and a maximum TCP acceleration of 1.4G. The working range of the system is a radius of 2,536mm. Repeatability of the Robocut is also impressive at +/-0.035mm, with a path accuracy of +/-0.2mm at a contouring speed of 1m/s.
While this is about half of the accuracy achieved by a 5-axis CNC, the Robocut comes in at between 30 to 45 per cent of the cost of a CNC system.
In the area of 3D profiling of plastic and fabric components where a 5-axis CNC is either too large or expensive and robotic routers are too slow, noisy, messy, and require expensive fixturing, the Robocut and FLACS become sound options.
A 600-Watt Rofin-Sinar laser is now available to make the Robocut / FLACS systems even more powerful alternative to 5-axis CNC lasers.