Springfield, OH — Founded in 1961, Rittal Corp. (www.rittal-corp.com) has grown into one of the largest enclosure manufacturers in the world. And now it has seen the light with its first laser welding application. By implementing a Dreistern (www.dreistern.com) roll forming machine that incorporates a TRUMPF (Farmington, CT) laser, the company is staying competitive and offers a stronger product.
The company manufactures industrial enclosures that provide protection from hazardous situations as well as enclosures that house electrical controls that must be protected from irritants such as dust and grime.
A basic industrial enclosure begins with a wireframe 3D rectangle that forms the basis of the enclosure, which can be as large as 19 x 39 x 87 inches. The frame is built of mild steel profiles that are roll formed off the Dreistern equipment in a continuous strip, folded into a frame profile, and then laser stitch welded to hold the form together.
The previous generation enclosure used a different style frame and was roll formed then spot welded. The company claims that laser welding produces a stronger assembly than does spot welding. Additionally, throughput is greater—by about 30 percent—in terms of the output of the roll form machine because spot welding is a start-and-stop operation whereas laser welding is continuous.
A company spokesman reports that, TRUMPF has divided a single laser through a mirror, which enables the system to weld and track the material at two separate areas. So, while it looks as though there are two separate lasers turning on and off, there is actually one laser beam with a rotating mirror.
Rittal claims to be the only enclosure manufacturer using this method, which results in a stronger frame using less material.—LJB