To grow capacity for its texturing operations, Custom Etch Inc. (Newcastle, PA) recently purchased a GF Machining Solutions (Lincolnshire, IL) LASER 4000 5Ax, the world’s largest 5-axis laser-texturing system. It is the first shop in North America to own this machine that adds a variety of flawless textures to oversized workpieces that are comparable in size to a compact car.
The 35-person shop specializes in texturing and engraving services for the production of thousands of products used worldwide, including automotive parts, housewares, aerospace, medical, beverage, lawn and garden equipment and toys.
According to Don Melonio, the vice president of Custom Etch, the LASER 4000 5Ax is the third, and by far the largest, 5-axis laser-texturing machine his company has purchased from GF Machining Solutions. The shop also relies on the brand’s LASER 1000 5Ax and LASER 1200 5Ax.
He noted surface texture is an extremely important aspect of product design for many industries given the increased demand for product differentiation. Therefore, his company invested in the LASER 4000 5Ax to grow its operations and help its customers explore more unique design opportunities for oversized workpieces.
“The laser-texturing technology from GF Machining Solutions propels forward the development, prototyping and manufacturing of our customers’ products. It also provides a level of accuracy, detail and repeatability – especially helpful with mold repair areas – that are unachievable with conventional etching processes,” said Melonio.
The LASER 4000 5Ax can produce textures on components with maximum workpiece dimensions of 13 ft by 10 ft by 5 ft . To put it in perspective, the LASER 1200 5Ax accommodates components with height, width and depth dimensions up to 2 ft 4 in.
The extra-large capacity machine operates in such a way that a component remains stationary on the floor while the machine’s axes move around it, expertly texturing on all part sides if needed. Such movement is possible because the machine’s fourth and fifth axes are attached to the Z-axis head. Additionally, the LASER 4000 5Ax manages 3D distortion of texture and masters texture direction related to part shape.
Because of its fully digitized process, the LASER 4000 5Ax allows Custom Etch to envision a design, preview it onscreen, and perfectly reproduce it on a workpiece. The machine includes on-board machining strategies to ensure optimal machine performance, best material removal rate and accurate reproduction of the intended texture.
The LASER 4000 5Ax is one of five machines, encompassing various models, within GF Machining Solutions’ laser texturing product line. With its laser technology, the company offers a process that is faster, quieter and more repeatable than conventional manual and chemical etching processes.
And while chemical etching produces only three to five layers, GF Machining Solutions’ laser technology achieves 30 to 50 layers, allowing for greater creativity in part design across a wide variety of materials, including graphite, aluminum, copper, steel, carbide, brass and ceramics.
GF Machining Solutions is the North American leading supplier of laser texturing solutions, Agie Charmilles wire EDM, CNC and manual diesinking systems and Mikron high speed/high performance 3- and 5-axis milling machines.
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