Roughly two years ago, FabX Industries Inc., a Michigan-based company that provides machining and fabrication services, began to diversify its customer base. Specifically, company
leaders looked to branch out and serve machining customers that outsourced their laser cutting. Gopi Ganta, president of FabX, said that’s when they decided to launch a new company called LaserTec.
Located in Greenville, Mich., FabX Industries is the parent company of Aquest Machining and Elite Precision Machining & Tooling. Aquest began in 1996, cutting and machining aluminum extrusions of all grades, sizes and profiles for the fenestration industry. The company has since expanded its capabilities, providing customers with the most current technology, processes and machinery to support growth and success.
While Aquest Machining specializes in the cutting and machining of aluminum extrusions, Elite Tooling offers more precise machinery and CNC solutions, serving robotics, medical and aerospace customers.
Given the history of FabX, creating LaserTec fit right in with its mission to provide machining and fabrication services to several industries, including fenestration, automotive, marine, furniture and recreational vehicle. For those unfamiliar with the term, fenestration refers to the design and production of windows and doors.
“Our specialty is quality work with quick turnaround,” Ganta says. “With our vast knowledge of materials, engineering capabilities and machining strategies, all of our companies can deliver exceptional quality along with fast delivery at a competitive price.”
Looking for a laser
In order to provide LaserTec the ability to serve a new customer base, Ganta says they began to research fiber lasers and were drawn to Mazak Optonics Corp., a supplier of laser cutting systems, automated material handling equipment and CAD/CAM software. A big attraction to the fiber beam delivery system was that it can significantly reduce operating costs, which are savings that can be passed down to customers.
“We were looking for a quality laser cutting machine from a company that offered the value and support we needed,” Ganta says. “We knew we were going to add more machines down the road and wanted to find a company that could provide as we grew.”
After researching several options, Ganta and his team ultimately decided to purchase the 6-kW OptiPlex Nexus 3015 fiber laser cutting machine from Mazak Optonics.
“Ease of use stood out to us,” Ganta says of a major attraction to the laser. “We wanted a laser cutter that was easy for our operators to use, as none of them had previous experience operating these machines.”
Another perk with purchasing from Mazak is that they offer hands-on training to customers. Ganta was confident that with that kind of education, his operators could hit the ground running when the new laser machine arrived.
Equipped with a high-power fiber laser, the dream of starting LaserTec became a reality for FabX in 2019. The newly formed company began providing high-quality and cost-effective sheet metal fabrication services to customers. But as demand increased, it was clear LaserTec would need to purchase another laser. Once again, they looked to Mazak.
“We knew for sure that we were going to stay with Mazak,” Ganta says. “We were impressed with the value and flexibility their laser machines offered.”
In addition to purchasing a second OptiPlex Nexus 3015 fiber laser, the company also added Mazak’s Laser Flex automation system to their operations. This automation system is designed for high-volume production and offer a modular design available in a range of configurations and features, which can be customized to facilitate the customers’ needs.
The system utilizes independent load and unload functions to accelerate sheet-to-sheet cutting productivity. Sheets are loaded utilizing a suction cup-based system and unloaded by a clamshell fork system. Towers can be added for load and unload capacity while cart systems and conveyors allow workpiece separation as production continues.
Laser Flex automation can also be designed to incorporate features to separate parts and automatically load them onto pallets in production environments. The automation system is available in a variety of 3015, 4020 and reverse flow configurations. It can also be integrated into an automated storage and retrieval system for even greater capacity.
The addition of an automation system with the laser cutting machines is beneficial to LaserTec because it provides the ability to implement “lights out” operations. Mazak’s laser cutters and automation have given the LaserTec team the tools to load material on the machines before leaving for the day and simply unload the finished parts in the morning.
“Just like every other fabricator, we’ve been very busy this past year with sales almost doubling,” Ganta says. “If we didn’t have the two machines plus the automation, we would have been in trouble.”
The OptiPlex Nexus 3015 fiber laser is a 2-D flying optics fiber laser, utilizing rugged construction and an innovative design to deliver high performance for fabrication job shops and production environments. With a large side access door that includes an automated two-pallet design, the system can handle a variety of materials. Furthermore, there is flexibility in that the machine is offered in 2-kW, 3-kW, 4-kW and 6-kW generator configurations.
When companies like LaserTec implement this machine, they quickly realize many advantages, including simplified operation and a reduction in operator dependency. This is, in part, due to the integrated Intelligent Setup and Monitoring functions designed by Mazak.
Another advantage is the helical rack and pinion positioning system, which features solid throughput for higher accuracy. At 28,330 lbs., the OptiPlex Nexus 3015 fiber laser is a durable and sturdy machine, also adding to the accuracy of the cutting.
Overall, Mazak’s laser cutter is engineered to be utilized with the OEM’s extensive range of automated material handling systems, giving customers a range of options for how to manage workflow. Also improving workflow is the PreviewG Control, which is a 19-in. LCD touchscreen that operates similar to a smartphone or tablet.
Like other automated machines, the use of sensors plays a part in how the OptiPlex Nexus 3015 fiber laser provides value. The laser is equipped with sensors in Mazak’s Multi-Control Torch, which monitors piercing and cutting operations for improved throughput and cut quality. Once the sensor detects an anomaly, the operation is adjusted or paused to automatically achieve effective cutting conditions – a goal that all users have in common.