Shreveport, LA - The Louisiana Association for the Blind (LAB; www.lablind.com) has taken delivery of its second laser cutter, a CF1250-100 Conveyor Feed Laser Cutting System (see photo), from Orca Photonic Systems Inc. (Redmond, WA; www.orcaphotonics.com). The system features a large cutting area (up to 60 x 60 inches), automated roll-fed material handling, and 100W CO2 laser cutting capability.
LAB will use the system to increase production capabilities in its Traction Systems product line, which includes safety matting and anti-slip tread materials for a variety of marine and aircraft applications.
According to Doug Young, plant manager, laser cutting offers a variety of benefits. “The ability to plot and cut numerous items, of virtually any shape on a single panel and run it continuously or intermittently, and then to change to different panel designs at the touch of a button, is a tremendous asset,” he says. “Utilization of the laser cutter dramatically reduces waste and eliminates costs such as blade changes and die replacements associated with a steel-rule die apparatus. The continuous feed system offers flexible design creation, limited only by the vertical cutting area of the machine.”
Established in 1927, LAB employs people who are blind or legally blind in manufacturing, administrative, training, and a variety of job positions that match an individual’s goals and potential. This private not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization employs a total of 110 people, and a minimum of 75 percent of the workforce is legally blind.
A person with sight currently operates the laser cutting system while the processed material is labeled and packaged by blind or visually impaired workers. But, this may change. “We currently have a machine operator who is legally blind, and we anticipate that he could be trained on this system. All we need to do is magnify the keyboard and computer screen,” says Young. “We use AutoCAD to draw and nest parts-it’s as easy as going to a Windows program. And with system automation, all you have to do is press stop and start.”