Fiber laser cutting to help fight bacterial infection

Metal fabricator Syspal has installed a flat-bed fiber laser cutting machine to expand the range of materials that it can process.

Broseley, Shropshire, England - Syspal, a fabrication company that manufactures handling and other equipment mainly from aluminum and stainless steel, has installed a flat-bed fiber laser cutting machine from Bystronic UK to expand the range of materials that it can process. The company specializes in an extensive range of stainless steel equipment essential to any hygiene- and quality-conscious environment, supplying products and services to the medical, pharmaceutical, and food industries.

The fiber laser broadens the firm’s capabilities to process antimicrobial materials such as copper alloys, which inactivate MRSA and other bacterial infections as well as micro-organisms like moulds, fungi, algae, and even viruses. They can therefore reduce the spread of bacteria from touch-surfaces, which is especially important for hospitals, cruise ships, and even public spaces.

"We have operated a number of CO2 laser profiling machines for many years and continue to do so, but that type of machine is not able to cut copper, as reflections can damage the optics and beam delivery system," explains Chris Truman, Syspal's managing director. "Fiber laser machines, on the other hand, are able to cut copper and its alloys such as brass up to 8mm thick, which will allow us to produce components and assemblies from the latest antibacterial materials like KME Plus copper sheet.

"Due to its high reflectivity, even aluminum sheet, which is one of our main materials, is problematic to cut with a CO2 laser, while processing stainless steel tends to be slow. We regularly cut both metals up to 10 mm thick, which are tackled efficiently by the fiber laser while up to 15 mm can be processed if needed. The CO2 machine is now mainly used for profiling thicker materials."

Another advantage of a fiber laser is its speed. When cutting aluminum and stainless steel sheets, Truman says it is generally twice as fast as the CO2 laser machine, while thin gauges in some other materials can be profiled three to four times faster. He also points out that running costs are lower, as the consumables are less expensive, and a fiber machine draws only about one-third of the power that a CO2 machine needs.

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