Whether one is new to the industry or a seasoned veteran, the world of metal fabrication, and in particular, laser cutting, can pose many challenges. Those challenges include a lack of skilled operators, low-quantity and high-mix parts, and quick deliveries – not to mention finding a machine that can handle the full gamut of materials and thicknesses thrown at it.
These challenges are particularly frustrating for first-time fiber laser users or those with experience only with older CO2 lasers or other types of cutting equipment, such as waterjets or plasma cutting tables. Understanding those needs, Trumpf introduced the TruLaser 1030 fiber cutter, a re-engineered laser cutting machine that offers first-class quality with a low investment and operational cost.
In terms of its rigidity and, therefore, longevity, the TruLaser 1030 fiber is built on a frame that has been optimized over decades through thousands of Trumpf machines. The combination of a rigid machine frame, lightweight motion unit and powerful drives allow for high dynamics, which converts into high sheet throughput and maximum productivity.
The drive package consists of a gantry drive in the X axis and linear direct drives in the Y and Z axes for the highest level of accuracy without sacrificing any speed. The machine is available in laser powers from 2 kW up to 4 kW, allowing users to choose what power level makes most sense based on materials and thicknesses cut.
One of the most important components of a laser cutting machine is the laser resonator itself. Trumpf is unique among laser companies in that it builds all of its own components. Being a single-source supplier is advantageous for a user when it comes to serviceability of the machine and overall quality control.
The TruLaser 1030 fiber utilizes Trumpf’s TruDisk resonator. Beyond the fact that it is built in-house, there are several advantages of the disk laser that make it robust and reliable.
First and most importantly, Trumpf guarantees a power stability of ±1 percent over the life of the laser. Due to the design of the resonator and a real-time power feedback control, Trumpf is able to constantly monitor programmed power and compare it to actual produced power to ensure the promised stability.
From a user and operational standpoint, this is an important feature because it ensures the same quality of parts is produced throughout the life of the laser, provided that the material is consistent.
With other laser types that tend to degrade and lose power over time, such as traditional fiber configurations, operator intervention is required to ensure consistent part quality. Operators may have to change certain parameters within the technology tables in order to cut consistent parts on a day-to-day basis. With the TruDisk, operator intervention is rarely needed, maximizing sheet throughput and productivity – especially helpful for first-time fiber laser users or operators that have minimal experience adjusting machine parameters or technology tables.
Another benefit of the TruDisk resonator is that it is completely impervious to back reflection. Whenever metal is cut with a laser, there is back reflection because not all of the laser beam is absorbed into the material. The TruDisk resonator, however, is designed in a way that the diode packs, used for pump energy, are located behind the sealed disk cavity where the beam is generated, preventing any possible damage to them. Because of this design, users are able to reliably process all reflective material, such as copper, brass and mirrored stainless steel.
Finally, the scalability of the resonator does not require any complicated splicing when changing power levels, as is the case with traditional fiber configurations. With the TruDisk resonator, the same crystal disk is used for all laser powers. The only factors that change are an increased pump surface area and additional diode packs to increase pump energy to the applicable power level.
Thick and thin
The TruLaser 1030 fiber is capable of processing the full gamut of material and thicknesses and includes all applicable technology tables. Pre-loaded technology tables are carefully engineered by Trumpf to ensure maximum speed and quality.
All Trumpf laser machines utilize a single cutting head strategy that works for all rated material and thicknesses. With the addition of BrightLine fiber on the 4-kW TruDisk, the TruLaser 1030 fiber is capable of processing material from 1 mm up to 25 mm.
BrightLine fiber technology allows users to process thin to thick material without any head change, laser light cable change or lens change. BrightLine fiber equipped machines use a two-in-one fiber optic delivery cable with two different size cores. This allows the machine to change the size of the focused beam from just over 1/10 mm all the way up to just over 1 mm.
BrightLine fiber is important when processing thick materials because the kerf width is expanded, allowing molten material to blow down through the sheet rather than having it sit on top of the sheet and essentially weld the part back into the skeleton. Operators can then easily remove parts from the skeleton.
Another feature that benefits users in terms of ease of operation is the PierceLine piercing technology. PierceLine uses a sensor that measures back reflection during the piercing process. Once the measurement of back reflection lowers significantly, the machine knows that it has fully pierced through the material and then switches from piercing data to cutting data.
Along with the single head cutting strategy, the TruLaser 1030 fiber also has built-in collision protection to prevent damage from any collisions that may occur throughout the cutting process. Tilting parts are a common issue in laser cutting machines because of the way the slats are placed on each pallet. Slats are typically spaced 67 mm apart from each other and tilted parts occur when the part is cut free but not supported in at least three places.
When this happens, there is a risk of a collision with the tilted part and the cutting head. The built-in collision protection drastically reduces downtime and costly repairs, as the cutting head simply swivels out and then back into place in the event of a collision.
Operation of the TruLaser 1030 fiber is easy thanks to the intuitive 18.5-in. touchscreen display and a few important automation features. In today’s metal fabrication market, low-quantity, high-mix parts with quick delivery are common. The touchscreen HMI, however, makes it easy to cycle through different programs and load them into a production plan. Programs can be loaded onto the machine via a USB drive or over the network. Production plans are full job lists that are designed to run one after another.
Taking things one step further, the TruLaser 1030 fiber is fully compatible with Trumpf’s laser automation portfolio. The portfolio ranges from simple load and unload systems to full logistic centers with multiple material storage towers and machines. Having a load and unload system, along with a reliable laser source and nozzle changer, allows users to run
production plans overnight or over the weekend, without an operator present.
The nozzle changer is yet another feature that takes human error out of the laser cutting process. Different materials and thicknesses require different size nozzles, so having an automatic nozzle changer means the operator doesn’t have to stand at the machine, waiting to swap out the nozzle whenever materials or thicknesses change.
The automatic nozzle changer has a 21-nozzle capacity and is able to insert and remove nozzles as needed for cutting, only requiring operator intervention if a nozzle is damaged. Each nozzle is threaded and screws into the cutting head to increase reliability.
Lastly, if a part is misplaced or a press brake operator bends a part the wrong way, the operator can easily produce an extra part using the Drop and Cut feature. Drop and Cut uses an internal camera to transfer a live image of the sheet to the HMI. The operator can then choose any part from an active program and place it directly onto the sheet using their finger. Parts can be freely located to fit into any spot, which is especially helpful when using remnant sheets.
Overall, the TruLaser 1030 fiber is a robust and economical laser designed to help overcome common challenges faced by many shops in the metal fabrication industry. It is reliable and easy to operate, making it an excellent choice for a new or veteran user.