The Right Angle

A new integrated laser cutting function offers an innovative angle for post-laser cutting operations

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For fabricators, work can start early in the morning – a literal daily grind. At many fabrication shops, the whirr and scent of metal grinding are a well-known, almost reassuring, sound and smell. As happens with many other processes in the metal fabrication industry, grinding has become the status quo, and nobody challenges it because “it’s the way we have done this for years.” Shop talk might revolve around abrasives or grinders designed to solve the challenge of keeping up with increasing volumes and the complexity of the job at hand – all required in addition to saving the shop time and money.

But there are other secondary processing requirements that also pose a challenge. It isn’t just grinding; parts might require countersinking on a drill press or milling center or rounding off edges by hand. The part may have to move through a fabrication flow involving three to four different operators and machines.

A new integrated laser cutting function, TRUMPF’s EdgeLine Bevel lowers processing costs by automatically preparing chamfers, radii and countersinks during the cutting process.

In fact, if you could track a single part through the fabrication process, the flow might look like a knotted-up ball of spaghetti. You might see parts moving around a factory floor potentially missing a step or getting stuck in a bottleneck due to a broken countersink tool, grinding disk shortage or operator who just needs a break from that daily grind.

Eliminating non-productive processes

Compared to the knotted-up ball of spaghetti workflow, advanced laser cutting technology offers a cleaner, innovative solution to post-processing challenges. A new integrated laser cutting function, EdgeLine Bevel, automatically prepares chamfers, radii and countersinks during the cutting process.

By combining these steps, costs can be lowered, and downstream processing can be reduced. In some ways, EdgeLine Bevel is to industry what the car was to the horse and cart – a major change in how we operate. Such a paradigm shift and the accompanying process change might seem intimidating, but it can also free operators from hours of non-productive time and process steps.

Generating chamfers automatically on standard TRUMPF laser cutting machines is not new, but the process once required a complex machine equipped with a special 3-D cutting head. Now, however, for the first time, EdgeLine Bevel can be used on any TruLaser flat sheet laser cutting machine (existing TruLaser 1000, 3000 or 5000 series machines) and enables operators to easily add chamfers via fast and simple programming.

When EdgeLine Bevel is used during the laser cutting operation, the part comes off the pallet with a surface that is ready for painting and safer, high-quality rounded edges.

The technology can even create chamfers on the component’s inner contours, an otherwise difficult area to access with an angle grinder or even a small rotary die grinder. Even when a fabricator is able to reach and manually chamfer inner contours, results can vary greatly from operator to operator. Innovative laser cutting technology eliminates such variability and reduces labor-intensive and time-consuming manual operations.

So how does it work? Before, bevel cutting was generally done with the cutting head articulated to an angle to achieve a cut with the material at the specified angle. The EdgeLine Bevel process is different because the laser beam is manipulated to create the bevel. This change in approach translates into less time wasted because the cutting unit doesn’t have to be tilted to a specified angle to achieve the bevel. EdgeLine Bevel can achieve a maximum bevel depth of 3 mm at 45 degrees and 6 mm at 30 degrees with a 1-mm root face.

In addition to chamfers, EdgeLine Bevel makes it easy to automatically generate countersinks for screw connections to meet the metric standard of M3 to M10. It can also round off metal parts with sharp edges during the laser cutting process and create radius edges of between 0.2 mm and 0.5 mm. Rounded edges give parts a high visual quality and fewer sharp edges can help prevent injuries from cuts.

Simplified and safer

Modern shops harness a synergy of safety and production and are always looking for ways to advance those efforts. Innovations like EdgeLine Bevel offer a tool for that and improve production safety in three main ways.

First, the technology reduces the need for messy manual processes, such as grinding, and, therefore, produces less dust. In addition to a cleaner, less dusty shop, beveling or chamfering during the machining process improves the overall production environment and the performance of factory employees while lowering maintenance requirements on machinery because grinding dust can negatively affect machine components.

A second safety improvement is a reduced potential for injuries. By lowering the time spent on manual processes, fabricators can reduce the risk of injuries that can happen when operators use riskier equipment such as grinders. Fewer injuries also translate into less administrative work for managers and improve your OSHA score. A third improvement is noise reduction. Noise reduction may seem minor, but it can have a major impact on improved concentration and is often equated with lower errors in production and higher quality output.

In addition to chamfers, EdgeLine Bevel makes it easy to automatically generate countersinks for screw connections to meet the metric standard of M3 to M10.

In terms of simplifying operations, painting a part, which often follows the laser cutting process is another area where EdgeLine Bevel can help. Parts used to require a secondary process after laser cutting to prepare the part for better paint adhesion on the square edges of the cut. This process was required because paint adhesion thins as it reaches the corner of a square edge. However, when EdgeLine Bevel is used during the laser cutting operation, the part comes off the pallet with a surface that is ready for painting. Such a beveled edge in stainless material is particularly useful for industries such as medical, food processing equipment, aerospace, chemical, petrochemical and others where this level of finished part is required.

Welding is another area where EdgeLine Bevel can help. Parts with inaccurate or inconsistent bevels can cause issues during welding. Fortunately, beveling during laser cutting eliminates quality defects that can occur during handheld processes in secondary operations.

Welding has been hit hard by labor challenges and weld preparation can get overlooked when areas of responsibility change. Moreover, most of today’s shop employees prefer to weld without all the prep work or weld robotically. In this environment, EdgeLine Bevel is a positive step for shops looking to lower the effort associated with their welding process.

Better bevel, better business

Reduced downstream operations can have a huge impact on quality and profitability. Switching to EdgeLine Bevel technology increases production values, decreases process variations and increases safety. Considering the current labor market and greater emphasis on lean standards and effective use of resources, it is even more worthwhile than ever to challenge current mindsets and look for new approaches in areas that might have been overlooked.

EdgeLine Bevel is best suited for work with high complexity in geometries when quality is difficult to attain with traditional handheld methods. And, it can be particularly valuable in facilities where higher volumes of small preps cause frequent bottlenecks in production. The EdgeLine Bevel function is even practical for companies that only occasionally produce components with chamfers and countersinks thanks to quick and easy programming.

This laser cutting feature allows fabricators to be creative and reimagine their approach to problems and parts. Such creativity often results in better part design and an improved fabrication process. It can also give fabricators an advantage over competitors. In a world of fast-paced innovation and growth, being able to leverage EdgeLine Bevel to create smart part designs can be a differentiating factor that wins business.

Watch the video to learn more about TRUMPF laser cutting with EdgeLine Bevel.

If you are looking to find new angles to remain competitive in the market or want to be more productive with your laser cutting, TRUMPF’s new EdgeLine Bevel beveling technology can help you stay ahead of the curve.

TRUMPF Inc.

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