Radan figures in five-axis laser cutting pioneer's development plans


ELC Laser Group (Waterford, Ireland) was the first company to introduce laser cutting into the Irish market in 1989, and they are the only sheet metal subcontractor in the Irish Republic to offer five-axis laser cutting. The company is using Radan (Bath, Somerset, England)'s specialist Radm-ax module as a springboard to becoming more design-focused.
David Power, ELC Laser Group's operations manager, says that the company continues to develop the latest technology, providing customers with what he calls the "definitive choice in laser cutting solutions." They offer design, cut, and fabrication solutions for projects across a range of industries, including agricultural, aerospace, pharmaceutical, shop- and hotel-fitting, automotive, materials handling, and automation.

Having used Radan to program their two flatbed laser cutters—a BLS 4000 and Prima Domino—for 13 years, Power says it was the natural choice when they were looking to upgrade how they control their five-axis Prima Rapido 2kW laser. "The machine has a 3m × 1500 bed, with a 600mm z-axis, which gives flexibility in cutting 10mm mild steel and 6mm stainless steel," he says.

The company brought five-axis laser technology to Ireland when a customer developed a need for products manufactured with it. Until recently, they used another CAD/CAM software to drive it, but found their requirements had outgrown the system. With the Radan system, the company can cut and trim complex pressed and formed 3D components, along with box and tubular sections, with total precision. ELC's five-axis laser system ensures total control of the cutting head, enabling chamfers to be cut on the edge of the material, or maintaining 90 degrees to the cutting surface throughout the operation.

They make full use of Radm-ax for one particular client, BS&B Safety Systems (Tulsa, OK), for whom they produce burst panels and explosion panels, primarily from stainless steel and nickel alloy. They are formed parts, so they are cut in 3D as opposed to 2D—the Radm-ax system allows the company to develop 3D models and cut the parts efficiently.

ELC Laser Group is now looking to develop a more design-focused role and become a full design and fabrication shop. Prototyping is going to play a big role in their plans: "Customers can come to us with a concept and we’ll design it from scratch, or they can provide a design and we'll value-engineer it," Power says. "Where the parts are formed we take them directly on to the 5-axis machine, and thanks to Radm-ax we can now pre-fabricate some components, and put the cutting operation on after we’ve fabricated them."

As well as a range of steels, stainless steel, and nickel alloy, the company works with titanium, aluminium, plastics such as acrylic and high-density polyethylene, and micro-density fiberboard (MDF).

Power says the software will also play an important part in the next stage of their development. "Our machines are capable of laser welding, and that's something we'll be exploring shortly. It's fundamental to our success that Radm-ax will program those operations, too."  

For more information, please visit www.elclaser.com and www.radan.com.

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