Two In One
- Category: Laser/Plasma
- Created: 2015-02-10
Manufacturers reap big benefits when a laser and a plasma cutting system come together on one machine
by Jennifer Smith, Sales and Marketing Analyst
Manufacturers have been demanding a faster, more accurate way to process various materials from thin-gauge to heavy plate. In the past, the choice was simple – a laser cutting system for thin materials and a plasma system for heavy plate. But not anymore. The engineers at Messer Cutting Systems accepted the challenge and developed one cutting machine with both plasma and fiber laser technologies combined.
When manufacturers first learned about Messer’s plasma/fiber laser combination cutting machine, the MetalMaster Xcel, they quickly saw the benefits of its state-of-the-art technology and robust design. With multi-tool capacity, the Xcel features industry-leading traverse speeds of 3,000 ipm, resulting in less pierce-to-pierce time.
"We anticipate an excellent market welcome with the new MetalMaster Xcel plasma/fiber laser combination machine," says Joerg Toberna, Director of Marketing. "This new machine is going to rock the cutting industry as we know it. We could not be more excited and eager to share it with the world."
Seeing combination cutting as the wave of the future, Messer knew the demand would be big, but they also knew it would come from a variety of manufacturers. Delivering a versatile machine would be essential. The Xcel is basically two cutting machines in one and can be equipped with either: one plasma and one fiber laser head, two plasmas (one of which can be a bevel head), or one fiber laser and one plasma bevel head. Understanding the unique needs that each manufacturer has, Messer used the need for customization as its driving force when developing the new machine.
Tailored for performance
To fit specific industry cutting needs, the Xcel offers multiple options for maximum performance. An optional shuttle table, for example, incorporates servo drives on transfer and elevator stations for combined transfer and elevation, reducing dead time while providing a base for additional material handling equipment, such as Messer’s Smart Cranes and Tower Systems.
Versatility relates to productivity when users pair automated material handling with fast traverse speeds. In these scenarios, cutting time increases as non-production time, like plate loading and unloading, are reduced.
The pure essence of combination cutting fortifies a manufacturer’s bottom line when it comes to piece parts with internal critical cuts. These critical features can be cut with a fiber laser while the external features are cut with a plasma torch – all with one piece of equipment, making it no longer necessary to move the piece from one machine to another. When cutting thin materials, the fiber laser provides the best quality, cycle time and cost per piece. When cutting thick materials, plasma provides the best cycle time and cost per piece.
Better part accuracy
With the Xcel, internal holes smaller than a 1:1 ratio are now achievable, including sharper corners on squares and cleaner straighter holes. Previously, this was impossible with only the plasma process. Now manufacturers gain better part accuracy than “True Hole Technology” on 0.625-in. (15.9-mm) mild steel and below. Parts can be cut using only one process or both fiber and plasma can be leveraged to maximize production. The unitized machine design provides an extremely accurate machine platform with ease of installation.
Because fiber lasers utilize a fiber optic cable for beam delivery, the need for mirrors is eliminated, making cleaning, alignment and replacement a thing of the past. Furthermore, the fiber laser process is three times more efficient compared to common C02 lasers. Another bonus for manufacturers is that the fiber laser doesn’t need a resonator, thus no laser gas is required making cost of operation considerably less.
To accommodate all types of varying plate conditions, high-performance 1,180-ipm lifters are available. The patented Slagger self-cleaning table also yields manufacturers maximum performance by reducing table cleaning time. Cleaning time can literally be reduced from hours to minutes, providing more time for cutting instead of cleaning. Also helpful to machine operators is its controls. The professional menu-driven, feature-rich, Global Control Plus CNC easily makes every operator an expert.
When considering a combination machine, additions to it will play into the purchase decision-making process. Additions like enclosures, shuttle tables and material handling equipment top the wish lists for business owners. Their popularity stems from the ability to help ensure a faster, more economical cutting process:
Adding a Class 1 enclosure to a combination machine will ensure safety and protection from spatter, glare, machine and noise. Optional acoustic isolation reduces plasma sound levels outside of the enclosure. With the MetalMaster Xcel, for example, the sound level is reduced to 85 decibels.
Shuttle tables increase productivity by allowing the non-cutting time of removing cut parts and material to be done in a separate area while the machine arc on-time continues. They also incorporate servo drives on transfer and elevator stations for combined transfer and elevation, simultaneously reducing dead time and serving as a base for additional material handling equipment.
For the Xcel specifically, two shuttle table options are available. One table handles 0.75-in. material thickness and below with another handling 2-in. material thickness and below.
With productivity on the forefront of business owners’ minds, additional material handling equipment can speed up the production process. The less product the operators must personally handle, the lower the non-arc-on-time, increasing production – and the bottom line.