A TURNING POINT FOR LASER CUTTING IN ROLL FORMING APPLICATIONS
EFFICIENCY AND PRECISION
The most significant advantages of using six-axis laser technology in roll forming applications are realized through gains made in operational efficiency and precision. As mentioned before, the ability to modify pre-formed parts is a sizable benefit in and of itself and saves a lot of time right off the bat. But building on that key benefit is the ability to perform all of a job’s required cuts in a single setup.
Because the six-axis fixture can rotate the part to every necessary cutting surface, the need to interrupt modification to reset the setup is eliminated and the process is streamlined. Using six-axis laser cutting has improved our cycle times by 30 percent.
In addition to considerable increases in efficiency, six-axis laser cutting provides noticeable improvements to precision and finished part quality. Because the part is only handled by production personnel once – when it’s first loaded into the six-axis fixture – the chances for human error are drastically reduced. And because the pneumatic fixture clamp ensures correct positioning at all times, the risk of making inaccurate cuts is practically nil.
We also outfitted our six-axis fixture with special sensors that provide timely reports and data for troubleshooting any issues that may arise. In our experience, the addition of six-axis laser cutting to our process has substantially lowered reworks while boosting productivity and profitability.
Many of the parts that we make for our clients are heavy, measure around four ft in length and feature multi-bend tube designs. As you can imagine, given the size and sometimes awkward shape of these components, handling them can be challenging and even dangerous to fabricators out on the floor. By limiting the number of times our people have to physically move the parts by virtue of its single-setup operation, the six-axis fixture reduces the opportunity for injuries and makes our factory safer.
And because our laser cuts cleanly enough for our end users’ applications, no sanding or hand-finishing is required. This means that we can keep fingers, hands and eyes away from sharp metal edges and shavings, which is always good for employee safety.
It’s easy to see that six-axis laser cutting makes a dramatic, positive impact on day-to-day roll forming operations, but it’s the return on investment that really makes it worthwhile. With increased productivity and efficiency, as well as the reduction of reworks and injuries, the addition of our six-axis laser cutting fixture more than paid for itself in a little over a year.
And because it’s allowed us to set our pricing at very competitive levels and enhanced the quality of our products, our six-axis fixture isn’t just carrying its own weight, but it’s helping to drive new business, too.
Chad Shaffer is an engineering manager at Roll forming Corporation, 1070 Brooks Industrial Road, Shelbyville, KY 40065, 502-633-4435, www.rfcorp.com.
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