IMTS: Fabricating & Lasers Pavilion Shows Need for Constant Improvement

Manufacturing Engineering Magazine August 2018
Bill Koenig

New machines build upon previous success

The Fabricating & Lasers pavilion of IMTS shows how makers of machine tools have to keep improving their product lineup. For one thing, customer expectations continue to rise.

Now, they expect the increase in production because of the fiber lasers and faster automation, and also expect one machine to do the work of two older CO2 machines. The company said in a written statement it has responded by, among other things, making “optical enhancements to facilitate thicker material and faster processing speeds.

Increase customer demand isn’t unique to Prima Power. Demand in the industry from customers to eliminate unscheduled downtime and more predictable maintenance for their waterjet systems. Customers are looking for technology that gives their business versatility and the ability to take on any projects that come through their door.

Waterjet had a reputation for requiring a skilled maintenance person to be on staff and it was preventing shops from looking further at waterjet. Today’s waterjets have advanced to be faster, more accurate and less expensive to operate than the machines from the past. For most shops, faster cutting results in more parts cut in the day.

In addition, flow has introduced a preventative maintenance plan that will move the waterjet industry away from the break-fix mentality. Reliability is what really matters most to today’s fabricators. The FlowCare program covers all of the maintenance and service for the first two years, according to the company.

Another waterjet company, Omax Corp. said in a statement it will demonstrate its new ProtoMAX personal abrasive waterjet system. The company said the system is suited for prototypes and low-volume cutting “of almost any material” around 1″ (25 mm) thick. Omax said the system can be used at small job shops, engineering classrooms, makerspaces and for personal use as well as larger jobs and fabricators “that need occasional water jet capabilities to complement their other cutting systems.”

New Showroom Facility

At BLM Group USA, the company has opened a new 75,000 ft2 (6,968 m2) facility as a showroom for customers and to demonstrate product improvements. One of the machines displayed during an event in May was BLM’s new LT7 Lasertube.

BLM says the machine can process round, square, open and special profile tube ranging from 12 to 152-mm diameter and lengths of 6.5 or 8.5 m. The company said the LT7’s fiber laser can cut materials and thicknesses from 12-mm mild steel to 4-mm brass.

Laser machine tools continue to evolve and offer users higher processing speeds, improved efficiency and increased throughput. Material handling and automation features are becoming more common. Users realize reduced setup and/or part changeover times, improving output and expanding the capacity of the system. Advancements in machine control make it simpler for intermediate users to operate the machine. Customers want laser machine tools that are flexible, include intuitive features that make it easier to produce their parts and are more efficient for today’s lean manufacturing demands.

Reaching Out, Collaborating

Companies are reaching out to their customers. Collaborate with customers help them to understand (via consultation/training) how to design intelligently, utilizing the joint flexibility granted by laser welding to streamline their process and drastically reduce production costs. These topics can be complex, and want to be partners with customers to help them get the most out of our machinery.

IMTS is an opportunity for the leaders in the industry to get together and showcase the latest in their technology. The show is also a great way for Flow to connect directly with our customers and those who are interested in waterjet technology. IMTS gives us the chance to meet people from a variety of industries and present the benefits of waterjet cutting. People attending the show expect to see the next evolution of technology that will help them advance their businesses and solve manufacturing problems.

The company wants to use the show to promote “solutions to challenges companies face in production and translate the direct material benefit for the customer.

Omax said its booth will have live cutting demonstrations of different machines in its product line. The company said software engineers, technicians and application specialists will be available at its booth for discussions on programming with the Omax Intelli-MAX Software Suite, special software features and cutting applications.