Reducing costs and increasing profits is a goal of every business. This goal is scrutinized even more during times of economic instability. Industrial fabricators evaluate every process, looking for ways to reduce costs while improving efficiencies. According to a market study conducted by Hypertherm Associates, scrap is a serious problem. For companies in the fabrication industry, scrap is the major cost factor that drives down profitability.
Due to the profit losses associated with scrap, it is not surprising that customers are very interested in reducing waste, and there are many ways to approach this goal. Fortunately, Hypertherm has developed solutions for reducing waste through an integrated fabrication system and utilizing nesting software to increase cut part quantity and quality, especially on thick steel plates.
Anyone with experience plasma cutting on thick plates knows that it requires increased lead-in lengths for establishing cutting and spacing for piercing and piercing puddles, the byproduct of which is increased scrap. Also, pierce-puddle locations lack predictability, which means it’s not uncommon for the cutting torch head to collide with a hardened puddle, jeopardizing part quality.
Hypertherm rebranded its Integrated Cutting Solutions (ICS) to SureCut Techology in 2016. The line of products under the SureCut line are designed to maximize cutting performance by automatically applying optimized cutting process parameters to simplify cutting and reduce operator intervention. Hypertherm software users might be familiar with such SureCut products as True Hole, True Bevel and Rapid Part. The latest solution in the line is PlateSaver – designed to help users drastically reduce scrap while improving cut quality.
About the tech
SureCut technology dramatically improves cut quality by combining high-performance cutting hardware such as plasma power supplies with specialized CAM/CNC software. The technology applies built-in intelligence that is automatically applied to cut parameters and now includes PlateSaver technology.
PlateSaver provides a significant increase in plate savings and profitability. These perks are possible with the enhanced arc stability feature of XPR X-Definition plasma, which quickly stabilizes the plasma torch arc and allows for shorter lead lengths and closer placement of parts.
Those programming jobs for machines with XPR will be introduced to PlateSaver’s CAM software, which adjusts lead size, style and location and uses a moving pierce to minimize part separation while simultaneously maintaining part quality.
System at work
PlateSaver technology works seamlessly on an integrated system of an XPR plasma system, ProNest nesting software 14.2 or later, and Eege Connect CNC Phoenix software 10.18.1 or later. Because PlateSaver is embedded as part of the SureCut technology, there is no additional cost for using this technology.
PlateSaver is designed for mild steel, typically for thicker plates. It is most effective for nesting square parts using XY cutting methodology. It can be combined with bevel cutting, but the machine integration must be updated. A few technology perks include:
- Enhanced arc stabilization for shorter lead lengths
- Specialty leads adjust the size, style and location
- More predictable splash zones
- Smooth execution of the pierce and cut path thanks to the Edge Connect CNC Phoenix software that features puddle jump height overrides
Users are cautioned, however, that thicker materials can produce increased sparking and spray, and there is also slag build-up on the torch shield that needs to be monitored. To assure accuracy, PlateSaver has undergone rigorous testing in the laboratory.
It’s estimated that since the technology was first introduced to the field in November 2021, more than 6,000 nests have been cut. Users have reported benefits that include less time spent loading and unloading plates, reduced inventory and inventory management, and reduced carbon footprint through the use of less steel.
Those nesting square or rectangular parts will find PlateSaver to be most effective compared to cutting circular parts, which are considered the least effective for this solution. For jobs that contain a mix of differently shaped parts, the solution still yields a three-percentage point improvement, on average, resulting in significantly lower annual material costs, lower cost per part and higher profitability.
PlateSaver increases material utilization by an average of three percent, which potentially cuts three percent off the entire year’s material bill. Based on a mid-size fabrication shop, a three-point improved utilization equates to 13.7 percent reduction in scrap every year. The reduction in material cost drops right to the bottom line, providing a significant boost in profitability.
As an example, with a raw material cost of $0.92/lb., using 2,000 plates per year and incorporating three percent increased utilization, the savings total $92,544 per year.