Manufacturing looks to recovery

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For fabricators and industrial laser system suppliers, FABTECH has become the venue for presenting the latest in technology advances

David A. Belforte

he FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show, including METALFORM is the largest fabricating show in the Western Hemisphere, featuring 1000 exhibitors showing products and presenting educational sessions on metal forming and fabricating, welding, tube and pipe production, and thermal spraying. With the de-emphasis on fabricating and industrial lasers at the biennial International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), FABTECH has become the venue for presenting the latest in technology advances.

This year’s event, to be held at Chicago’s McCormick Place on November 15–18, has become the largest industrial laser show in North America. More than 60 companies will show products for laser cutting, welding, marking and other applications.

The lengthy recession in North American manufacturing industries has led to a severe decrease in the sales of capital equipment and supporting products. FABTECH will be the first industrial show occurring as the bottom of the recession has been reached and recovery starts. Therefore those companies that chose to exhibit this year will do so with anticipation that they will begin to experience a return to normalcy in their industry sectors.

The following is representative of the companies exhibiting laser and laser related products at the show. Those listed are companies that supplied information to ILS prior to the close of editorial for this issue.

The heavy hitters at FABTECH are the suppliers of laser based sheet metal cutting systems, based on floor space for their exhibits and the number of visitors the working systems attract. Perhaps enjoying the largest interest will be the fully automated, fiber laser based L1Xe from Salvagnini (www.salvagnini.com) that is economical to own, energy efficient, and ecologically responsible. The L1Xe can operate as a standalone laser cutter or as an integrated production cell with automation. TRUMPF (www.us.trumpf.com) will have a powerful display of laser technology starting with the TruLaser 1030, a 2 kW laser cutter occupying half the floor space of a typical 5x10 foot machine. The company will also show a TruLaser Tube 7000 that cuts tubes and profiles with large diameters and wall thicknesses, TruLaser 3030, a TruDisk laser, and a TruLaser Cell 1100.

Along more traditional lines Mitsubishi Laser (www.mitsubishi-world.com) will show the CO2 powered LVPlusII featuring Brilliantcut technology that produces a cut edge surface quality comparable to a machine finish, resulting from the consistent power of a new 40CF-R laser resonator. The Hypergear 612 from Mazak Optronics Group (mazakoptronics.com) utilizes a five-point setup that optimizes cutting during extended unattended operation through an automated torch and nozzle changer. These features enable small batch production, maintain optimal cutting condition, and can lower labor costs by 20% or more. Two powerful and fast laser cutters will be shown by Bystronic (www.bystronicusa.com). The first, an introduction into the USA, is a Bysprint Pro 3015 powered by the Bylaser 4400 W laser with Automatic Technology Selection. The second system is a newly designed Byspeed 3015 with a Bylaser 6000W laser source.

IPG Photonics (www.ipgphotonics.com) will introduce compact fiber lasers for cladding, brazing, and annealing, Quasi-CW fiber lasers, the YLR 2kW compact laser, Green pulsed fiber lasers, and a 500W air-cooled single mode laser. Wayne Trail Technologies (www.waynetrail.com) will show its Class 1 FLEXLASE universal processing center powered by a 4 kW IPG fiber laser, with a High YAG head for welding coupled to a Motoman 6-axis robot. On-the-fly head exchange allows a Precitec head to demonstrate cutting. Also showing a fiber laser cutting head is Laser Mechanisms (www.lasermech.com) whose FiberCut unit is engineered for 3-D robotic cutting of metals up to 6 mm thick. All connections to the head are at a right angle reducing stress on the input fiber. This head works with leading laser systems up to 4 kW in power. Nufern (www.nufern.com) expands its fiber laser products with the NuQ line of pulsed units for laser marking applications. With fast turn-on time and high peak power the NuQ laser line maximizes production and delivers more marking power per output watt. The company claims faster marking speeds with more precision and cleaner marks leaving no ghost lines.

In the related products area, OEM and replacement optics will be featured by two exhibitors. Laser Research Optics (www.laserresearch.net) has a line of low-absorption, high-power CO2 lenses that are direct replacements for most OEM supplied optics. These optics are designed to run cooler and outlast standard A/R coated lenses. And a new portable polarizer lens stress tester will be shown by II-VI Infrared (www.ii-vi.com) in addition to its’ MP-5 ultra-low absorption lenses.

On Site Gas Systems (www.onsitegas.com) (featured in the July issues of ILS) will be demonstrating its convenient, reliable, and safe nitrogen generating system that replaces cylinders and dewars with a cost-effective alternative for laser assist gas delivery.

Software is always a significant attraction at FABTECH and this year MIE Solutions (www.mie-solutions.com) will be demonstrating its ERP Package, B2B Supplier Portal, and Document Manager Package, all designed to offer production control for the manufacturing sector. MTC Software (www.mtc-software.com) will partner with Hypertherm to show the expanded capabilities of ProNest 2010 with updated process parameters and post-processors for many laser setups. High Performance Nesting from Jetcam (www.jetcam.com) shown by Nest One Solutions (www.nestonesolutions.com) works out the most effective nests based on predetermined parameters with no manual interaction.

ILS will be reporting from the show floor throughout FABTECH. Look for updates on the ILS Website www.industrial-lasers.com

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