D & M Design & Fabrication (Kirkby Malzeard, North Yorkshire, England) has seen dramatic growth since the joint owners, Dave Mawer and Mike Barratt, started running the business in 2010. At the time, neither thought that seven years later, they would buy one of the most advanced fiber laser cutting machines on the market—a Bystronic 10 kW ByStar Fiber with automated sheet handling.
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The machine, installed in May 2017 in one of the company's factory units, is capable of processing 3 × 1.5 m sheet and is about 10X faster at processing 10-mm-thick material than the company's previous Bystronic 3.3 kW CO2 fiber laser machine bought five years earlier. A sheet can be completed typically in less than 40 minutes, rather than six hours.
"We were previously struggling to keep up with laser-profiling our material, despite running the CO2 machine around the clock, six days a week," Barratt says. "With the speed of fiber technology, we are easily processing more material per day in a single shift and now only work five days a week. The fiber machine stands idle for some of the time at present, as it finishes all the work going through the shop so quickly."
"With an eye to the future, we specified the machine with an inline ByTrans Extended handling system to automate supply of material to the machine and return of laser-cut sheets," Mawer adds. "We have proved the cell's reliability during lights-out running a few times. It is not needed at the moment, but will be invaluable as volumes build in the future."
Between 2014 and 2016, annual growth in turnover of the company was 10%. This jumped to 20% in 2017 because of the efficiency of fiber laser cutting and this rate of increase is continuing through 2018. Work is flowing in from a broad spread of sectors, including automotive, construction, and food, and involves cutting mainly stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum.
Additionally, fiber laser technology allows reflective materials like copper and brass to be cut without damaging the optics, unlike with CO2, expanding the range of work that the company can take on. For the same reason, fiber also helps when cutting aluminum.
The company has expansion plans that are already under way. The unit housing the fiber laser machine is being extended and, by mid-2018, will include a deburring facility. Later in 2018, the shop containing the company's press brakes will also be enlarged to accommodate a new powder coating plant. Overall, the factory area will increase from 20,000 to 28,000 sq ft.
For more information, please visit www.dmdesignfabrication.co.uk.