Our own Jim Landowski wrote an article for the November/December issue of Stamping Journal spotlighting improvements with our systems.
New TLH Series 5-axis laser cutting system offers high cutting speeds and versatility
Komatsu America—Laser Group, Novi, MI, has introduced its fastest performing system yet with the TLH Series 5-axis, three dimensional Komatsu Fiber Laser processing machine. The TLH Series, of which there are three models, provides cutting speeds to 1,181 in/min (30,000mm/min)and features fiber optic beam delivery with 2 and 3 kW power options.
The series is ideal for hot stamping operations and has shown itself to be more accurate than other operations such as robotic laser systems. Further, the series is ideal for any production application that requires high speed cutting of thin gage mild steel, aluminum or stainless steelÉworking best with materials less than 3/8″ thick. These highly rigid machines allow operator access from the opening of one side of the machine for optimal accessibility. The feature provides dramatically superior operability and workability.
The series provides X, Y and Z axis travel up to 177 in. (4500mm), 45 in. (1150mm) and 20 in. (500mm) respectively with positioning and cutting accuracy 0.0015″/19.68″ (0.04mm/500mm) Combined with its controllable optical head angles of +720 degrees on the C axis and rotation of +/-135 degrees, on the A axis, the TLH can operate in virtually all cutting applications.
The series can be modified with two integral pallet changers or a large indexing table (up to 120 in.) for increased flexibility and production. The system uses a Windows® operating environment, non-contact gap sensor technology, controllable optical head angles, and operator friendly joystick and hand-held pendant—along with a teach mode that all help to make complex cutting simple.
The TLH Series was developed to provide, through simple programming and operation of integrated motion and laser systems, high-productivity performance in cutting complex parts, to generate intricate beam paths and to adapt laser parameters to various cutting requirements.
The TLH also provides precision cutting, established first on its cantilever-style construction and solid base that are the foundation of its operating accuracies. The construction features are matched with AC servo motor drives, ball screw feeds and linear ball guide mechanisms that provide movement tolerances of +0.0019 in. per 19.6 in. of travel distance (+0.05mm per 500mm). To assure consistent beam penetration despite contours and form irregularities, the TLH’s non-contact sensor provides rapid response to changes in the gap between cutting needle and material to maintain the beam’s optimum focus.
The TLH Series programs can be prepared either by using the teaching playback system or by using NC data made with an optional automatic programming system and corrected by the teaching playback system if necessary. The teaching mode allows for settings for on/off laser beam, pulse rate, laser power, cutting speed and other parameters. In addition, the control incorporates memory storage for multiple part programs and includes integral subroutines such as linear, circular and spline interpolations, copying and mirror shaping, pattern downloading, circular cutting and corner rounding from center point definition, scheduling parts and operations for unattended production.
Machines includes the TLM Series 3-dimensional, 5 axis.
The TLH Series of Komatsu Fiber Laser 5-axis, 3-dimensional laser cutting systems from NTC America—Laser Group, (shown with dual pallet change) is an ultra high speed and versatile performer ideal for hot stamping and a variety of process applications.
Manufacturer joins others in the quest to improve part quality, tooling and cost efficiencies
By Lynn Stanley
George Washington once said, “Decision making, like coffee, needs a cooling process.” The words strike a chord with Tom Simeone, second-generation owner and president of Manor Tool & Manufacturing Co. An engineering graduate of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, he recalls that one of his professors gave him a “cooling off” period to make a life-changing decision.
“I was on the fence,” he says. “I didn’t know if I wanted to continue my education at the graduate level and teach or join my dad [who started Manor in 1959]. At the time, I was working for a professor who gave me a one year option to make my decision. After six months, I told him, ‘I’m sticking with family.’ My choice was also heavily influenced by our employees. I later found out that my dad probably would have sold the business if I hadn’t stepped up to take the reins.”
Today, Manor houses punching, bending, forming, spot welding, deep draw stamping and assembly operations in its 44,500-sq.-ft., Schiller Park, Illinois, facility. Manor produces prototypes for short-run stampings and fabricates parts in high production volumes. Manor also builds tooling for parts and runs customers’ dies in its 32-press production operation.
Nearly 30 years after Simeone’s transformative personal choice, manufacturing needs put Manor at a crossroads of its own—one that would divert the mechanical press-dominated metal stamper away from flywheels to join what Komatsu America product manager George Schreck calls a “growing servo revolution.”
“We were looking for a machine to back up our 400-ton mechanical press in the event we hit a backlog or the press went down,” says Manor General Manager Kevin Segebarth. “We’ve had mechanical presses for 50-plus years. And we have tended to gravitate toward the used market for purchases because the iron ore sourced in the 1980s and earlier was fantastic. Press frames from that era have really lasted, allowing us to replace parts as needed.”
But after looking at secondhand presses, Manor came up empty-handed. Used presses and press beds were too large for the company’s needs. A look at new presses was also disappointing. “I can’t tell you the last time we bought a new press,” says Segebarth. “The side frames on the new mechanical presses were not nearly as robust as our cast frames, which made us leery.”
That’s when Manor management decided to consider servo technology. “We were aware of servo but hesitant about it because we didn’t have an understanding of its capabilities and how it might fit into our production processes,” Segebarth says. “Once I was able to get into the field, take a look at different servo models and the ways people were using the machines, I found it very eye opening.”
Still, Manor’s decision-making about servo underwent a “cooling process” that took roughly a year, says Schreck. “They looked at a lot of press OEMs,” he notes. “They visited our demonstration facility in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, several times to kick the tires. We showed them how to operate the machine so they could experience what’s under the hood that makes servo mechanical powered presses unique. Since Manor builds tooling in-house, we felt servo’s unique capabilities would be a good fit.”
Reputation, a robust press frame and smaller motors engineered and supported by Fanuc tipped Manor toward Komatsu. “We chose to partner with Fanuc because they offer worldwide parts support,” says Schreck. “Customers don’t have to send the motor back to its country of origin. Delivery-ready motors are a day away versus months.”
Joining a revolution
Manor will install a Komatsu 2pt. 300-metric-ton unitized straight-side servo mechanical powered press this autumn. “We do a lot of draw work and cold forming,” says Simeone. “It’s why I thought we’d end up with a hydraulic press at some point. We always wanted one but could never justify the cost. Servo’s ability to control ram velocity and stroke speed gives us everything that hydraulic and mechanical presses could and so much more. We think we’ll be able to attract more draw work that is interesting and more complex.”
According to Schreck, “Servo presses can fill in many of the functional gaps between hydraulic and mechanical machines. Although it can’t draw as deep as a hydraulic press, servo allows you to vary slide velocity during the stroke [the punch] and dwell at any point in the motion path. This includes bottom dead center (BDC) at tonnage and reverse direction of motion, which allows multiple hits at BDC or different positions before BDC.”
A hydraulic press has to work against material resistance, he notes. “As the ram comes down and touches the metal, pressure builds. When metal begins to form, resistance drops and the ram picks up speed again, repeating the process to continue forming metal.”
With servo, continues Schreck, “You get tonnage through the bottom of the stroke whether you go slow or stop [dwell]. Instead of forcing material, the ability to change servo’s profile and slide motion allows metal to flow for part making versus forcing it into form.”
The ability to dwell or change the slide’s velocity during the stroke also supports tool design and testing. Manor plans to run tooling designs through its new servo press, using different programs to determine whether it will improve piece parts. “We think we can combine capabilities in our tooling to eliminate secondary operations and help control part costs,” says Segebarth, surmising, “We’ll be able to design tooling that can optimize press performance and improve part quality.”
Manor will be able to capitalize on what Schreck calls the servo effect. “Because we can control slide velocity, tonnage to make a part may be reduced, sometimes by 20 percent. Manor will [likely] be able to run most of the same tools in the servo press that they run on their higher tonnage mechanical presses.”
Manor also has plans to run a wide array of materials through the servo press including hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel, high-strength steel and phosphorous bronze, nickel and stainless. “Komatsu’s product specialists have us fired up about experimenting and trying new things. “We’re just starting this journey, but we believe it will give us an edge for the longhaul. The bottom line? If we’re not successful, our customers aren’t; and that is our end goal.”
First-of-its-kind press line soon to be followed by a few more.
BY RAY CHALMERS, Contributing Editor
There are increased speed, higher efficiency, improved energy use and enhanced safety, but Doug Goimarac, press center manager at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA US) Warren Stamping Plant in Warren, Michigan, is vehement about quality. Responding to a question about the drivers behind the plant’s $63-million investment in expanded capacity and a brand-new servo tandem press line, he simply replied, “Quality sells vehicles. For stamping, we have higher first-time quality now than we’ve ever had.”
Warren Stamping’s new 180-inch press line from Komatsu (komatsupress.com), which started up in late January, is replete with technical advantages. All dies, automation, sheet stacks and control settings are computer-controlled and designed to change jobs automatically. “With timing, coordinated effort and preparation by the press operation crew, the line automatically prepares all systems for making the next group of parts,” says Doug Klumb, sales manager at Komatsu America’s large press division. Die change occurs in a sequence of simultaneous motions taking place in under four minutes compared to more than 20 for Warren Stamping’s existing lines.
The “servo” in servo tandem press line refers to servo motors and drives that provide 100% programmable control and movement of each press ram at any position in the press stroke, compared to a mechanical press operating at a fixed speed. The new press line is the first of its kind at Warren Stamping and the entire FCA North American stamping operations, although three more will be in operation at FCA’s Sterling Stamping Plant in Sterling Heights, MI, later this year. For Warren, the new press line increases capacity by up to 12,000 hits per day, or approximately 3.6-million parts per year. The Warren plant, which also has 12 other major press lies and three large progressive press lines, has a total plant capacity of some 84-million parts per year.
FCA US announced the $63-million investment in Warren Stamping in 2014 and began sending employees to Serbia for initial training on a Komatsu servo press tandem line there as construction began in Warren. Training also continued apace in Warren, as FCA US announced in October 2014 that the plant was the first stamping plant in the organization to achieve a bronze designation in World Class Manufacturing (WCM) ranking. People at the plant are now working to achieve silver. (WCM is based on metrics in 10 technical and 10 managerial categories.)
Initial results of the new press line should certainly help. It can run steel body panels at up to 18 strokes per minute (spm) and 15 spm for aluminum, in some cases twice the speed of existing plant lines, says Komatsu’s Klumb.
Regarding energy use, the servo motors and drives act as generators when slowing, actually generating electricity during a portion of each press cycle and reducing total plant consumption. More efficient die change and modular press line design ease maintenance and repair, and quiet operation improves workplace safety. Indeed, standing next to Warren Stamping’s Line 25 in operation, the sound of the adjacent Line 23 strikes the dominant note.
“We can run 10 jobs in the same press line, and the improved ability to go from job to job, all with fewer touchpoints, is critical,” Goimarac says. He credits the press-to-press transfer as well-conceived, greatly reducing the number of times a blank is picked up and dropped.
And there’s operator efficiency as well. “I can run a fender with four or five operators three times faster than the same process that used to take 30 people years ago,” he says. When asked how this new press line positions his plant for the future, Goimarac replied, “The future is now.”
NTC America—Laser Group, headquartered in Novi, MI, has a lineup of advanced laser processing systems that includes the TLZ Series CO2 3-axis laser cutting machines…machines that have launched the age of ultra-speed laser processing. The TLZ series features a gantry-style rugged construction, flying optics, shop-hardened operating system and precise accuracies, but it is the speeds, surpassing competitive laser systems, that set the TLZ Series apart.
The TLZ Series provides cutting rates of up to 40,000mm (131 feet) per minute along with rapid traverse speeds of 100,000mm (328 feet) per minute in the X and Y axes, and 60,000mm (196 feet) per minute for the Z axis. These speeds are kept in check with AC servo drive motors, rack and pinion and linear ball guide mechanisms for precise, controlled machine movement. The drive devices are isloated so vibration is minimized to keep cut edges sharp and accurate.
With responsive control, precision and power along with the flexibility of a dual pallet changer to meet demanding productivity requirements and high quality standards, the TLZ is ideal for large, thick plates or delicate thin sheet metals, exotic alloys and non-metallic materials, and intricate shapes. High power lasers, selected with respect to applications criteria, assure penetration and piercing to cut all types of materials. Laser power options are available with up to 5.0kW output that, when coupled with flying optics and features such as a non-contact gap sensor, side gas assist, and auto focus, assure cutting integrity. An automatic pierce sensor and retry function are also available.
Complementing the series’ speed and powerful laser output are two model choices with work envelopes that fit a majority of application needs. The TLZ-408 provides a 98″ x 49″ inch (2,500mm x 1,250mm) cutting stroke; the TLZ-510 model has 122″ by 61″ (3,100mm x 1,550mm) axis movements, and both models have a 100mm (4″) vertical stroke of the optical head.
The TLZ Series provides tight tolerances with positioning accuracy of +.002″ per 20″ of travel (+.05mm over 500mm).
Controlling this performance is a single but advanced CNC unit that features one-touch function and programming of most operations, eliminating multi-key data entering and helping to error proof setup procedures. The control programs, directs and monitors all machine functions, positioning, laser output, and process parameters. The CNC is matched with NTC’s innovative laser processing software that has built-in subroutines that include calculations and functions for circle, arc and linear interpolation, mirror imaging, an extensive cutting parameter library as well as scaling, automatic skew compensation, part program storage recall and a comprehensive self-diagnostics package.
Performance is heightened with features such as the extra wide, non-jamming conveyor that keeps trimming scrap moving, the power assist work piece lifter along with open access helping to make loading and unloading easier, and the dual pallet changer that moves both pallets simultaneously for faster changeover. Auxiliary material handling options are available for the TLZ systems, including multiple level storage shelves/loaders, that permit automated, unattended operation.
In addition to the TLZ Series ultra high speed systems, NTC America’s lineup of laser products includes the TLV Series 2-dimensional, 3-axis hybrid systems, the TLX Series 3- axis gantry-design machines for large (up to 15′ x 100′) workpieces, and the TLM Series of high power CO2 machines with bridge-type construction and 5-axis control for precision cutting and welding of 3-dimensional workpieces.
NTC America—Laser Group TLZ Series of 3-axis laser cutting systems features bridge-type design, shop-hardened construction, precise accuracies, and unprecedented speeds—cutting rates of up to 40,000mm (131 feet) per minute along with rapid traverse speeds of 100,000mm (328 feet) per minute in the X and Y axes, and 60,000mm (196 feet) per minute for the Z axis.
When the challenge is to cut large plates, or thick stock in a variety of alloys, and routinely fabricate intricate, complex shapes…the solution from NTC America’s Laser Group (Novi, MI) is the TLX Series of gantry-type, 3-axis CO2 laser systems for two-dimensional cutting applications. The TLX machines are a combination of a rugged construction and high-powered laser energy that produces a cutting system tough enough for the harshest manufacturing environments. Yet, the TLX Series also features exceptional precision, and speed along with an operational package that blends all of its productivity performance and power into units that are simplistic in their programming, setup and operation.
In addition to meeting high performance requirements, including fast processing times, accuracy, reliability from its solid machine tool construction, the TLX Series has been reconfigured with a design that places the laser and chiller components on the system’s gantry. This concept provides a smaller footprint and shorter beam path that results in space and labor savings, increased flexibility and greater edge quality in cutting operations.
The TLX systems are, first and foremost, built for heavy duty, rigorous fabrication jobs. Within the series are four standard gantry-style machines that provide working strokes from 10.5′ x 46.25′ (3,200mm x 14,100mm) up to a massive 15′ by 100′ (4,550mm x 30,500mm), and with approximately 8″ of vertical Z-axis travel. A fifth unit in the series is a cantilever model that provides an envelope of 8.5′ x 20.3′ working strokes.
The TLX Series has three power options available including 3.3kW, 4.0kW, 5.0kW and 6.0kW produced by dependable fast axial flow, DC excitation lasers that deliver consistent energy strength and beam quality.
The TLX lasers provide high-speed performance for short cycle times and fast throughput. Rapid feed rates of up to 1,181″ (30,000mm) per minute, X & Y axes, and to 393″ (10,000mm) for the Z-axis position the beam quickly, while cutting speeds of up to 393″ (10,000mm) per minute are possible. These speed ranges are coupled with precision motion that spans just +0.004″ per 12″ (+0.1mm per 300mm) of travel. This accuracy is the result of AC servo motors, linear guides and rack and pinion systems built for the heaviest-duty models that give each model high strength and rigidity throughout the full range of travel. The TLX lasers also have an exclusive drive system that isolates incidental motion from the beam delivery system to provide virtually vibration-free optics for precision cutting at high speeds.
The TLX models incorporate a fast-response gap sensor to monitor optics-to-material distances and an auto focus option that can automatically adjust the laser focal point to compensate for various material thickness while maintaining optimum pierce and cutting quality. Additional features include a Fanuc CNC controller that enables instantaneous and simultaneous movements of all three axes to generate smooth cutting action through a full range of part geometries and shapes. The control functions are balanced with NTC-developed, laser specific software with built-in subroutines and cutting parameter library for circle, arc and linear interpolation, to simplify mirror imaging and scaling, provide automatic skew compensation, part program storage and recall, and comprehensive diagnostics.
In addition to the TLX Series of laser cutting systems, NTC America’s lineup of laser products includes the TLZ Series of 2-dimensional, 3-axis systems with flying optics, the TLV Series 3-axis hybrid machines for large, wide workpieces, and the TLM Series of high power CO2 machines with bridge-type construction and 5-axis control for precision cutting and welding of 3-dimensional workpieces.
With working sizes of up to 15 feet by 100 feet, positioning accuracy of +.004″ per 12″ of travel, cutting speeds of up to 393″ per minute, laser powers to 6.0kW, and shop-tough construction, the TLX Series laser cutting systems from NTC America are ideal for most demanding fabrication applications.