In 1990, Don Begneaud, founder and CEO of Begneaud Mfg. in Lafayette, La., introduced his first Trumpf machine to the shop floor. The new machine – a Minimatic CNC punching machine – was a sophisticated piece of equipment and one that Begneaud initially thought might not be possible for his small business. With a little bit of luck and a lot of drive, however, not only was the Minimatic possible, but shortly after bringing it in-house, a second one was needed.
“Before I was exposed to Trumpf machines at the 1987 Fabtech show in Chicago, I had only seen a brochure on a Trumpf nibbler machine,” Begneaud says. “When I saw that brochure, I figured something like that wasn’t possible for my little welding shop. But luckily, I got someone to finance the machine on a handshake.”
Begneaud says the new machine quickly exceeded all expectations. It was kept so busy that the company was basically forced to get a second, bigger machine. Bringing the new equipment into the facility would mark the beginning of Begneaud Mfg.’s position as a first mover.
A few short years later, Begneaud added a Trumpf laser cutting machine to his growing collection of equipment. At that time, Begneaud Mfg. was the first job shop in the entire state of Louisiana to have a flat-bed laser. There were two others in the state, but they were located at large OEM companies.
The RotoLas attachment allows a 2-D laser cutting machine to be converted from flat to 3-D tube processing quickly and easily. Watch the video to see how it works.
In the following years, Begneaud added to his first-in status as the premiere fabricator in North America to own a Trumpf TrumaBend press brake, a VectorMark compact laser marker and a TC 6000 L punch/laser combo machine. He was also the first to boast a Trumpf Qualifier 2500 measuring machine.
Since those early days, Begneaud Mfg. has amassed an impressive collection of equipment. In total, the company boasts eight laser cutters, five press brakes, two CNC punches, one manual punch, two welding robots, one folding machine, three CNC machines, three manual lathes and a dozen welding stations.
The recent additions are, of course, Trumpf machines – a TLC 1005 multi-axis CO2 laser and a TruLaser 3030 fiber laser with a RotoLas option for processing tube and pipe. And unsurprisingly, Begneaud Mfg. was the first company in North America to take receipt of such equipment.
In its 65,000-sq.-ft. facility, Begneaud Mfg. processes material for a variety of industries, including oil and gas, agriculture, aviation, aerospace, automotive, advertising, architecture, art, communications, food processing, hospitality, marine and medical technology.
Processing in 3-D
The two additions to Begneaud Mfg.’s collection of equipment expanded the company’s tube and pipe cutting capabilities. The TruLaser 3030 fiber laser with the RotoLas option was a replacement for a previous CO2 TruLaser 3030.
“The 1005 multi-axis CO2 laser – a new technology for job shop environments – broadened our capabilities,” explains Brent “Bubba” Reinhart, a senior machine operator at Begneaud Mfg. “They’d been used in the auto industry, but having one in a job shop wasn’t common.”
But then again, Begneaud wasn’t – and isn’t – a common business owner. When new equipment is released in Europe, Begneaud keeps his eye on it and is more often than not, one of the first to take receipt of such equipment in North America. So when he first saw the multi-axis laser, he immediately recognized the productivity gains that it could bring to his facility.
Its versatility was one of the main selling points. Able to laser-cut and weld 3-D parts, it was a must-have piece of equipment, considering the amount of tube and pipe being processed at Begneaud Mfg. each year.
Since introducing the TLC 1005 multi-axis CO2 laser to the shop floor, it’s been leveraged for trim work on hydroformed and stamped parts for automotive applications, and it’s also frequently used to laser-cut bevels and perform deep penetration welding.
The Trumpf TLC 1005 multi-axis CO2 laser offers Begneaud Mfg. the versatility to laser-cut and weld 3-D parts. Watch the video to see it in action.
“We do a lot of work with the multi-axis laser, processing a lot of stainless steel for applications in the food industry,” Reinhart says. “We also take enclosures that are purchased off-the-shelf by our customers and add contours and cutouts for gauges and switches. We also like to use it for laser welding because it produces extremely strong welds.”
For Begneaud Mfg., the Trumpf TLC 1005 multi-axis CO2 laser handles trim work on hydroformed and stamped parts for automotive applications. It also laser-cuts bevels and performs deep penetration welding.
In addition to the multi-axis laser, the TruLaser 3030 fiber laser coupled with the RotoLas accessory has been incredibly beneficial for Begneaud Mfg. The company’s first RotoLas was brought on board in 1998, which Reinhart says was a workhorse for many years, but was eventually sold and replaced.
“The new machine is a fully automated flat sheet cutter, which we use to process aluminum, stainless steel, copper and brass,” he says. “When it comes to the RotoLas add-on, we’re primarily processing non-ferrous pipe, like aluminum, copper, brass, Inconel and other exotic metals.”
The RotoLas is what gives the TruLaser 3030 3-D tube processing capabilities. Essentially, it’s a piece of equipment that can be attached to a flat-bed laser cutter to accommodate tube in a variety of ferrous and non-ferrous material types. In the matter of a few minutes, an operator can convert the machine from flat to tube processing. Reinhart says the process is fairly quick and simple.
“Over the years, when it came to flat sheet cutting, there was a lot of manual setup,” he says. “There were a lot of things that you had to manually do, so it was somewhat complicated. As the years went by, people started buying more flat-bed lasers and it got easier.”
Reinhart attributes the ease of use – be it setting up the RotoLas or programming a cut – to strides made at Trumpf. Compared to Begneaud Mfg.’s first RotoLas, which Begneaud purchased more than 15 years ago, Trumpf has upgraded the equipment on so many levels – significantly reducing the learning curve. “It’s geared to be easier to learn so that more people have the capability to buy them and put them in their shops,” he says.
“Before, I don’t think you could just stick a RotoLas in a shop and expect anybody to learn it in a few days or a week,” he continues. “The new one, however, allows for offline programming and has intuitive controls. When you load a program, the machine basically asks if you’re sure this is how you want to clamp this particular tube. If not, you can change it right there on the controller. Once you hit the ‘next’ button, the machine feeds you with prompts to determine whether you’ve followed the proper next steps or not. Once you press ‘acknowledge,’ you’re ready to go. It’s that simple.”
The TruLaser 3030 fiber laser with the RotoLas option gives Begneaud Mfg. the ability to process 3-D tube in a variety of ferrous and non-ferrous material types.
When talking with Begneaud about his equipment, he makes mention of the luck, drive and passion that’s required to make the types of investments that his company has made throughout the years. But he also talks about the importance of developing relationships with equipment manufacturers, equipment users and others.
Over the past two decades, Begneaud has traveled to Europe more than 30 times. In addition to visiting Trumpf’s facilities, he’s visited the facilities of users of Trumpf equipment in Germany, Greece, Scotland, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic, just to name a few.
He’s also attended various European trade shows. The exposure he’s had in regard to how others leverage industrial fabricating equipment has been a major boon for his company.
“Going to trade shows in Europe is incredibly beneficial,” Begneaud says. “The machine tool builders there are ahead of the United States. Typically, when I would go to a European trade show and see a machine unveiled, it’d be another two years or so until that equipment came to the United States.”
But that didn’t stop Begneaud from having an interest in these new machines. He says that it motivated him even more to be a first mover when it came to investing in equipment. So Begneaud’s first piece of equipment – the Trumpf Minimatic punching machine, which Begneaud Mfg. still uses today – made the trek from Germany to Lafayette.
Begneaud stresses, however, that you can have the best equipment in the world, but without really good people, you don’t have anything. By creating a positive company culture and delivering essential skills training to its staff, Begneaud Mfg. consistently cultivates the most important relationships – those that are in-house.