Following the installation of a TRUMPF TruLaser Cell 5030 5-axis CNC laser-profiling machine, the first such model in the UK, GF Laser (www.gflaser.co.uk) is enjoying the flexibility afforded by a system that can switch quickly and easily between 3D and 2D cutting to suit workload requirements. The machine has also provided a further boost to throughput speed at the company’s Dudley headquarters and manufacturing centre.
Founded in 2006, GF Laser is today one of the country’s most progressive and forward-thinking suppliers of laser-cut parts to sectors such as automotive, yellow goods, construction, architecture and general fabrication. The company, which is ISO 9001:2015 accredited, has grown its turnover from £2 million to £3.5 million in the past three years, and today runs a 24/7 schedule over three shifts, set against a backdrop of continuous investment in the latest manufacturing technologies.
A case in point is the recently installed TRUMPF TruLaser Cell 5030 CNC laser-profiling centre, a fibre-based 5-axis system that has replaced a TRUMPF TLC CUT 5 after 12 years of reliable service, and complements an existing CO2 5-axis machine, a TRUMPF TruLaser Cell 7040.
“Since installation, the TruLaser Cell 5030 has been busy processing a multitude of different parts,” states Director Simon Tregillus. “Not only have we been using it as a 5-axis machine for profiling 3D components, we’ve also used it extensively for flat-bed cutting, which was one of the main reasons behind its selection. It’s been doing everything from the trimming of automotive pressings, spinnings and extrusions, through to components for the fire-retarding industry. It has probably been in 5-axis configuration 60% of the time, reverting to flat-bed format for the remaining 40% whenever we reach capacity on our existing trio of TRUMPF 2D laser cutters.”
On a regular basis, the 4kW TRUMPF TruLaser Cell 5030 is processing parts from materials that include mild, galvanised and stainless steel, as well as aluminium. The company is also using the machine to profile pressings and spinnings made from yellow metals such as copper and brass. Unlike laser cutters based on CO2 technology, the fibre-based TruLaser Cell 5030 has no such issues with these reflective materials. The machine, which offers a bed size of 3000 x 1500 mm, can also be used to process formed and straight tube, as well as box and angle section.
“Most of the parts we process on the TruLaser Cell 5030 are up to 5 mm in thickness, while typical batch sizes are circa 500,” says Mr Tregillus. “However, we can handle batches as small as 1 or 2-off as the machine is quick and easy to set up.”
As the first machine of its type in the UK, TRUMPF decided to bring in an applications specialist at the commissioning and training stage, who helped GF Laser get up to speed quickly and begin making parts, and revenue.
“He was able to provide us with real-world examples of what the machine could achieve, rather than simply pointing out its features, so it was particularly helpful,” says Mr Tregillus. “He also showed us how we could optimise the machine’s speed, as well as various tips and tricks based on his experience. He fully understood the commercial pressures of getting work out the door.”
By adopting fibre-based 5-axis laser profiling, the company has made significant gains in the speed of its output in comparison with CO2 technology. The faster speed of the machine’s electronic doors has also contributed to shorter cycle times.
“The big thing for us, however, is the flexibility of the TruLaser Cell 5030,” states Mr Tregillus. “The ability to use it as a flat-bed machine is hugely beneficial to a subcontracting business such as ours, which can never be entirely certain what will come through the door tomorrow, and in what quantity. We need to be flexible and fast-moving for our customers, so the TRUMPF TruLaser Cell 5030 is proving ideal.”
Further benefits of the new machine are cited as small footprint, easier maintenance due to modularity and TRUMPF remote support.
GF Laser is currently experiencing a period of growth and has recently completed a factory extension that will expand the company’s shop-floor area by 35%.
“Investing in our plant and our manufacturing technology is essential to ensure we can fully support customers now, and in the future,” concludes Mr Tregillus.