Nottingham firm replaces water with laser for metal cutting

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Laser systems have replaced water jet technology at Nottingham-based Lasershape because the former can be up to 20 times faster than the latter.

Fibre laser technology is used for processing copper and brass, materials that were previously cut using waterjet technology and the cycle times could be up to 20 times greater in some applications. The move to the laser systems has resulted in price cuts for customers, according to Lasershape. In 2010, Lasershape installed its fibre laser systems and a year later it added two CO₂ laser systems. While Lasershape has typically quoted lead-time of 48-72 hours in reality many of the company’s orders get dispatched on the same day because of its use of four computer numerical control laser profiling centres.

‘When I think back to 2010, Lasershape had reached a plateau,’ explains the company’s managing director, Tim Leam. ‘We had run out of space and run out of machine capacity, which meant we had to move premises and invest in new equipment. One without the other seemed pointless.’

So in 2010 Leam invested in two Trumpf TruLaser 5030 fibre laser models. In 2011, the company added a TruLaser 3030 with a 5kW resonator and a TruLaser 3040 to its new 38,000 square foot facility. For sheet thickness above 5mm, the TruLaser CO2 machines are preferred, while anything thinner is processed using the TruLaser 5030. Leam has found that his new laser machines are quicker and more flexible than he expected because the Trumpf monitoring software has provided information such as daily up-time graphs and shift efficiencies. ‘We can use this data to set each shift manager a target moving forward, for example. It’s helped our business a lot,’ Leam added.

The company operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week using four on/four off, 12-hour shifts. Each shift has its own production team comprising a shift manager, technical manager and maintenance manager.