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Full speed ahead

Investing in the latest fiber laser technology translates into high productivity growth

Most manufacturers find the need for speed is their highest priority. Investing in the latest technology is one way for companies to keep up. High production rates and customers’ increasingly shorter lead times led Staub Mfg. Solutions to make the transition from CO2 to fiber laser by investing in a Trumpf TruLaser 5030 fiber, a 2-D laser cutting machine with an 8-kW laser. The transition was the next step for Staub Mfg. to achieve high productivity growth.

Steve Staub, president of the company, discovered the TruLaser 5030 at Fabtech 2014 when he was looking to add to the company’s arsenal of laser machines – one 6-kW CO2 Trumpf (flat) and two older CO2 Mazak machines (one flat and one 3-D).

“We had gone to Fabtech looking to add another 6-kW CO2 laser machine,” Staub says. “We didn’t know much about fiber, but when we saw the 8-kW fiber laser machine run, we were wowed. The cutting speeds the fiber laser achieves, especially at the higher wattages, are so much higher than what the CO2 laser world is doing.”

Making an investment

Higher productivity was important to Staub. “Before we bought the new 8-kW machine, we were running fairly close to capacity,” he says. “We were getting longer lead times and it was becoming an issue for us. So that opened up a discussion here. We spent three or four months studying fiber and learning the advantages of it. It was a huge investment.

“We could have bought two or two and a half of the 6-kW CO2 lasers for what we paid for the fiber laser, but we still would only have a third of the capacity,” Staub says. “Some of our high-volume jobs involve up to 25,000 pieces per year, which is a lot for the laser world. We have plenty of extra capacity because the fiber laser cuts parts so quickly.”

When Staub Mfg. opened its doors in 1997, it was as a laser cutting company. Its focus was strictly on lasers.

“That’s all we did for the first 11 years,” Staub says. “Then in 2008, we bought our first press brake (also a Trumpf) and began offering more value-added complete product manufacturing.”

In addition to laser cutting and press brake forming, Staub Mfg. now offers laser blanking, 3-D laser cutting, sheet metal fabrication, machining, welding, finishing, powder coating, painting and zinc plating. Anodizing and mechanical assembly round out the mix.

“We work at being diverse,” Staub continues. “We make everything from food industry equipment to military vehicle parts to retail floor displays and even some automotive components.”

He notes that it’s all ongoing production work with most parts delivered on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule. He continues to say that most Staub Mfg. parts are 6 ft. by 3 ft. or under.

 

Productivity improvements

The 8-kW fiber laser excels at high-volume cutting of metals under 3/16 in. thick. Therefore, Staub Mfg. uses the fiber laser mostly for thin metals, typically under 1/8 in. thick. Some parts for the aerospace industry are only 0.0010 or 0.0015 in. thick. One example of Staub Mfg.’s productivity savings is a 0.060-in.-thick aluminum blank.

“We’ve been making it for years,” Staub says. “So long that at first we only had the one 1-kW CO2 Mazak laser to produce it on. That took about one minute per part. Then we moved the part to the 6-kW CO2 laser we bought in 2006. That took about 30 seconds per part.”

Now, the 8-kW fiber laser cuts the part in 12 seconds, almost a third of the time. In addition to thin metals, Staub Mfg. cuts a variety of thicknesses with the 8-kW fiber laser.

“We do a lot of aluminum,” Staub says. “We use the higher wattage to cut 1/4-in.-thick and even 7/8-in.-thick plates, which has always been a problem with lasers because of heavy burr formation. Our 6-kW CO2 laser always created tougher burrs to deal with. But, with the 8-kW, few burrs are created.

Other production runs involve cutting 1/4-in.-thick and 3/8-in.-thick steel. Staub Mfg. also has a 1/2-in.-thick steel part it runs on the 6-kW CO2 laser that will eventually be switched to the 8-kW fiber laser.

 

All the advantages 

Staub Mfg. also takes advantage of the Trumpf LiftMaster Compact to automatically load and unload up to a dozen sheets on the machine.

“This is the first time we’ve done automation, and we love it,” Staub says. “We have people here 24/7, but we can set up the machine on the first shift and the operators on the second and third shift don’t have to do anything. They don’t have to change out a sheet every couple of minutes or so.”

Staub mentions the company did face somewhat of a learning curve as to how to get better at using the automation and what factors to be aware of.

“This being our first laser with automation we weren’t sure what to expect,” says Staub, “but it was much easier to pick up than we had anticipated.”

Staub Mfg. also takes advantage of the latest features the TruLaser 5030 8-kW fiber laser offers.

 

Staub Mfg. makes everything from food industry equipment to military vehicle parts to retail floor displays and even some automotive components.

Staub Mfg. uses a Trumpf LiftMaster Compact to automatically load and unload up to a dozen sheets on the machine.

“We did get all the bells and whistles,” Staub says. “The machine is just so intuitive and easier to use than our other machines. We didn’t know what we were missing by not having all of these features over the years.”

Those features include BrightLine fiber, which is what allows for the high productivity in thin metals and quality cuts in thicker metals by reducing burr formation. The PierceLine feature assists in processing thicker metals, as well, and enables the fiber laser to process smaller contours. The Smart Collision Prevention option helps minimize the risk of collision when cutting by determining where cut parts are likely to tip and makes adjustments.

All in all, Staub Mfg. is pleased with the investment in fiber laser technology. One more advantage Staub received was Trumpf’s customer financing.

“I even checked with my bank and they agreed that the Trumpf financing deal was a better offer,” Staub says.

Staub Mfg. Solutions

Trumpf Inc.