- Now able to cut thicker materials
- Faster throughput of parts enhanced by higher levels of automation
- Investment opens up new business opportunities
Manufacturing services company ICEE has stepped up its fibre laser cutting service so it can now cut thicker materials, at a faster rate of throughput, and has introduced a higher level of materials handling automation, all to attract new business from existing and prospective customers in a wide range of industry sectors.
The upgrade replaces the original 2kW laser power source on ICEE’s Bystronic Fibre 3015 fibre laser cutting machine with a powerful 6kW version. Additionally, an automated laser cutting head changer has been purchased from the Swiss machine tool maker, complementing the existing Bystronic ByTrans robotic materials loader fitted to the machine.
“Fitting a 6kW laser and adding more automation means we will be able to cut not only thicker materials, but also do it rapidly with just as much precision as before, reducing delivery times, whilst maintaining high quality production throughput at least cost,” says Paul Harris, ICEE’s Managing Director.
“We can now offer customers the advantage of not just accurately profiling parts from thin sheet and light gauge plate, but also the cutting of a variety of materials up to 30mm thick, such as stainless steel and aluminium plate, and other ferrous and non-ferrous stock.”
Thicker materials ICEE is now able to cut parts from by 6kW fibre laser are mainly mild steel, stainless steel, aluminium, brass and copper, at dimensions up to, respectively, 25mm, 30mm, 30mm, 15mm, and 12mm thick. Other materials and thicknesses may also be profiled and ICEE will advise on this. The Bystronic machine bed will take sheet or plate measuring up to a maximum of 3.0 by 1.5 metres.
“ICEE’s new fibre laser capability is a perfect complement to our waterjet cutting service,” says Paul Harris. “Although slower, the latter is a cold process able to cut thin and very thick materials, so waterjet cutting offers features and benefits that may be better suited to a customer’s particular requirements or constraints. The advantage is ICEE offers customers both cutting process options, all under one roof.”
Stepping up automation and productivity
The new automated laser cutting head changer ICEE has purchased works in conjunction with the existing Bystronic ByTrans automated materials loading platform fitted to the machine. This integrated, CNC-driven combination now enables a number of different jobs, of different materials and thicknesses, to be stacked onto the machine and left to be cut automatically, without supervision, day and night.
For each job, the ByTrans loader robotically transfers the appropriate sheet or plate from the stack and positions it beneath the cutting head. Sensing this, the cutting head changer automatically fits the right head for the particular material and thickness to be profiled.
“With this new and highly automated resource,” says Paul Harris, “the fibre laser machine is loaded with a number of jobs for customers, we start the process and walk away, knowing it will run automatically and reliably, until all the jobs are finished.
“It’s an important step forward in several ways. It greatly increases throughput, raises productivity and dramatically escalates our ability to take on more varied and demanding work in the fibre laser part of our business.
“We can now process thick materials much faster than ever before and besides being able to rapidly produce high volumes, we can still make small batches or one-offs, whatever the customer requires,” he says.
“The bottom line is it makes us far more competitive, flexible and profitable.”
Comprehensive manufacturing services
Coupled to cutting by fibre laser and waterjet, ICEE is able to make not only simple or complicated profiled parts but also offers a complete turnkey service that encompasses many other essential manufacturing processes, including rapid prototyping.
The range of services includes bending, fabrication and assembly, fettling, finishing and testing, and if required, stockholding and warehousing, installation and ongoing life-time maintenance.
ICEE’s latest investment is part of its lean, continual improvement business policy aimed at meeting customers’ requirements for faster delivery at the highest quality and least cost. It adds more automation, in turn designed to raise efficiency, throughput and productivity.
Typically, its customers reside in aerospace, building and construction, medical, shipbuilding or marine, and other sectors.