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Home / Plasma Cutting Keeps Milk and Cheese on the Table

Plasma Cutting Keeps Milk and Cheese on the Table

Tetra Pak uses Lantek Expert CADCAM software to laser cut large stainless steel sheet metal parts for diary and cheese processing vats. Here’s how they do it.

Nesting tends to be a manual operation at Tetra Pak CPS because the size of the parts frequently limits the options to only one way of fitting them on a sheet. For larger areas of scrap material, the shop uses functions in the Expert CAD/CAM software to cut up waste into manageable sections so it can be easily removed from the plasma cutter by the operator.
A large part of the work at Tetra Pak CPS involves manufacturing stainless steel vats for dairy and cheese processing companies. The majority of these vats are made to order and can be up to 10 m long, 3 m diameter and 8 mm thick with cone shaped ends. The plasma cutting machine has a capacity of 4 m x 2 m, so individual parts are generally large with holes and apertures for flanges and other fittings.
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Tetra Pak CPS, Ltd. (Sherborne, UK) has been using Expert CAD/CAM software from Lantek Systems Ltd. (Malvern, UK) for their sheet metal programming for about ten years as one of three Tetra Pak processing and packaging companies operating in the UK. This shop provides smaller, site-specific processing solutions to the dairy, beverage and prepared food industries, together with the manufacture of stainless steel vessels and equipment for the Tetra Pak Group and others.

Peter Amos, the preparation team leader at the shop, uses the software to program his Air Liquide Alphatome 20 high definition plasma cutter. “A large part of our work is the manufacture of stainless steel vats for dairy and cheese processing companies. The majority of these are made to order units. The vats can be up to 10 m long, 3 m diameter and 8 mm thick with cone shaped ends.” The plasma cutting machine has a capacity of 4 m x 2 m, so individual parts are generally large with holes and apertures for flanges and other fittings.

Designs for new vats are completed in the drawing office using Autodesk Inventor, then passed to production where Amos refines the design data in Expert and carries out any additional unfolding of parts into their flat state using Flex3d. “There is a lot more data on the dxf files than we actually need, so we remove this. Parts are generally supplied in a flat state by the drawing office, but Flex3d allows us to unfold cones, which are a common feature of the vats, locally if we need to.”

Nesting tends to be a manual operation because the size of parts frequently limits the options to only one way of fitting them on a sheet. “We try to optimize material utilization by nesting smaller parts around the main large part if possible,” adds Amos. “Expert has some powerful and easy to use functions that make the manual nesting very flexible.” For larger areas of scrap material, he uses functions in Expert to cut up waste into manageable sections, enabling it to be easily removed from the plasma cutter by the operator.

The preparation team supplies plasma cut, rolled and formed parts to the other three fabrication teams at Tetra Pak CPS, so the smooth running of the CAD/CAM system and the Alphatome 20 are crucial to the productivity of the factory. “Expert is easy to navigate and the backup and help desk is very good, with a response within 30 minutes,” notes Amos. “By using remote access software, Lantek engineers can solve a problem for us and, at the same time, show us how to avoid the problem again. It is a very good system and I would be happy to select it again.”

Tetra Pak CPS, Ltd., Coldharbour Business Park, Sherborne DT9 4JW, United Kingdom
+44 1935 81 8800, www.tetrapak.com.

Lantek Systems Inc., Mason Technical Center, 5155 Financial Way, Suite 6, Mason, OH 45040, 513-988-8708, Fax: 513-322-4567, www.lanteksms.com/us.

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