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GFLasers

Laser Cutting Projects February2019

This image shows a free issued pressing from our customer which we have added additional holes in for the mounting of ancillaries. As each of the 2mm thick pressings has been originally manufactured from aluminium, they are deceptively lightweight. This property is a main factor given that these will later be used within the automotive sector. By using the 3-dimensional cad model of the pressed part, we were able to create a fixture specifically for the purpose of holding this pressing, whilst ensuring that none of the structure of the fixture would become intrusive to our operations. On our 7040, 5 Axis Trumpf Laser cutting machine we have precisely added, with the use of Nitrogen cutting gas, the required holes to a very fine positional tolerance

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This image is of a 1.5mm stainless steel component, formed by our sister company by our Nitrogen laser cut flat blanks. Once formed we then process these in our 5 axis department and Laser cut the excess material, from the pressing operation, from the outside edges of each part. This creates the final component for use on an assembly within the automotive sector.
This image shows parts recently completed by us, for use in the yellow goods sector. The strength of components is vital for every component; whether it be the largest, or the smallest. S355 Mild steel is well known for its increased strength in comparison to the more widely used and readily available alternatives. Once Laser cut using oxygen gas on our range of both CO2 and the very latest Fiber Trumpf Lasers, these parts are vibro deburred to remove the oxide layer. Something of great importance for the longevity of the paint finish to later be applied. To add more strength to an already robust component we process each of these through our Press brake department; adding multiple complex folds before despatching to our customer in high volumes.

Specialist Automotive Laser Cutting

As times change, so does our need for safer, more readily available and environmentally friendly means of transport. The Automotive sector has seen this shift and is constantly developing new vehicles with increasingly complex; but overall less components. The advantages are that less material, manufacture and handling are required, resulting in cheaper and more refined end products. We work closely with vehicle manufacturers within this sector to ensure future vehicles will be safe, affordable and sustainable for many years to come.

A prime example of this is a current project we are processing for the automotive sector. This project began relatively modestly but has since grown by a large percentage as a result of an increased demand for the final product. The two individual parts in this project, which we can process on all three of our Flatbed Trumpf Laser machines, use a very specific grade of metal designed especially for the automotive sector to be as strong as possible, whilst also extremely lightweight. By utilising our own in house compressed air, we remain highly competitive without sacrificing on cut quality or cutting speeds.

One of the issues faced at the beginning of this project was how to ensure that the laser cut parts were made available to go into press without adding extra time or handling to an already strict schedule. We worked alongside our customer to put in place a constant rotation of specially designed pallets to hold parts in the orientation required by the next stage of manufacture, direct from the laser machine. By implementing a check off by our Quality department before any packaging began, we guaranteed that all pallets supplied would be in the same orientation as the first customer buy off. This was vital due to a high run rate of pressing, processed automatically by our customer and it eradicated any need for timely human intervention.

As a company that specialises in Laser Cutting, We are one of many, particularly within the West Midlands, offering services to a plethora of sectors and customers across the globe. By working to our strengths and making constant improvements; including new procedures, checking fixtures and investment in the latest technologies, we have become one of the leading suppliers to the automotive, yellow goods and construction sectors

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want!

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want!

Our Marketing guru asked me to write an article on what our customers want from us. I’ve been thinking about this and initially a post on LinkedIn sprung to mind by a competitor of ours (who shall remain anonymous) in the laser cutting industry. The post went along the lines of:

You can have it quick

OR

You can have it right

OR

You can have it cheap

But you can’t have it quickly, cheaply and right!

Could We Order Products & Services Like Shopping on Amazon?
I guess like us he knew that what customers want is to have it yesterday, cheaply and cut correctly. And who can blame them? When we’re used to same day delivery from Amazon for virtually any item then it can be frustrating to be told that you will have to wait a bit longer and that it might be a bit more expensive then what you originally thought and that we won’t always get it right!

Also, most laser cutting websites, including GF Laser’s, promote quick turnaround and this is one of the major benefits of laser cutting when compared to say traditional pressed parts.

So, can we meet customer expectations? Could laser cutting ever be as simple as ordering something from Amazon? Now some companies have started on this route with online estimating tools and ordering but with limited success. Unless it’s a really simple part then there are too many factors open to interpretation.

At GF Laser we have made some progress in these areas:

  1. Getting it right – We’ve invested in our quality department increasing headcount and improving the tools that they use to check parts.
  2. Getting it quickly – We’ve spent around £1 million in the last few years in the latest fiber laser cutting machinery. These latest machines are up to fifty per cent quicker than the older CO2 versions.
  3. ?

Now, as for the last one well that’s a bit trickier. No-one wants to make less money and it’s in the interests of all our customers that we make a profit. So how do we remain competitive in an increasing crowded marketplace and competition from overseas?

Truth is, we’re still working on that one! We review our prices against our peers and we use the latest nesting technology to ensure that the material is used as efficiently as possible. I would say we’re also very cheap if you want 10,000 parts but producing 1 part at the same piece part cost as 10,000 is currently more challenging.

Trumpf (The manufacturers of our lasers not the American President) are making a lot of progress in the factory of the future where automation is key. Repetitive tasks can be carried out by a machine to achieve zero rejection working at high speed. Material is tracked by cameras so that it’s automatically routed to the next available laser increasing productivity tenfold. Scrap parts are automatically detected and removed from Production.

Employees will then become system engineers rather than laser operators and their role will be making sure that all the necessary computers are working correctly and are properly maintained rather than physically operating the laser.

It should then be possible to produce one part as cheaply as producing 10,000 parts. I think we’ll get there and in the next 10 years we’ll see a massive shift to this type of factory as the cost of operating a connected factory comes down.

So, yes you can have it quickly, cheaply and right. Just not as cheaply as you might want just yet!

GF Laser plans in 2019 & how will Brexit impact the engineering sector?

GF Laser plans in 2019 & how will Brexit impact the engineering sector?

At the time of writing the Country waits with bated breath for the next chapter in the Brexit saga. In common with most business owners I’m conscious of how Brexit will affect our business and whether it will affect our plans for 2019.

Whilst we don’t export directly to mainland Europe, many of our customers do, so the potential impact on sales cannot be underestimated. The other side of the Brexit coin for the GF Laser management team, is a potential boom as companies purchase more goods from the UK rather than overseas. This is a possible opportunity for UK manufacturers to claw back some of the work that has moved overseas in the last few decades. The pro’s & Cons of Brexit are covered in this article by The Engineer

Will Brexit Affect Engineering Employment?

Another potential issue for us to consider in 2019 is the recruitment of staff, we have many employees here that were born outside of the UK. They have made a valuable contribution to the success of our business with a strong work ethic and possession of skills that are not readily available in the UK.

The skills shortage in the UK is a matter that is talked about almost as much as Brexit. If we are unable to draw on a pool of human resource that includes all EU nationals this will be a major challenge.

The Right Government Funding

In my opinion the government needs to do more to talk to local businesses about the skills they require and how best they can be funded. Rather than rely on colleges perhaps offering training grants for existing staff that include compensation for lost production would help increase the skill set. We also need to think about this training strategies over a 10 year period rather than a quick fix that makes a good soundbite for political gain.

Firstly, grants should be available that cover 100% of the cost not just a proportion. Secondly, the procedure for grants should be simplified to avoid the need for consultants who have to interpret the requirements from local authorities. These two reasons I believe put off many companies from accessing grants as they are too busy running their businesses to spend days and days filling in forms or dealing with consultants.

Flexibility in a rapidly changing world

As with most business owners in the low margin manufacturing environment I will be looking at how to increase productivity. Purchasing new faster more efficient machinery is always tempting, however, with all the machine manufacturers based in the EU a dramatic slump in the pound could reduce our appetite for capital investment in 2019 as capital equipment prices increase.

I suspect more than any other time in GF Laser’s 12 year history our yearly objectives will need to remain flexible until the Brexit picture becomes a little clearer. Hopefully, the politicians can put their political ambitions to one side to present a united front to the European Union so we can negotiate a deal that is the best interests of the United Kingdom.

Simon Tregillus
Director
Connect with me on LinkedIn

Metal we cut in December

Metal we cut in December

This image shows a consignment of laser cut and folded parts which have recently been successfully passed through our quality assessment before being processed In such quantities. Each of these 5mm thick parts, laser cut using oxygen gas from S355 mild steel material, are to become part of an assembly within the automotive sector, in particular public transport. As with all parts that we produce, we are able to offer full traceability in accordance to our ISO9001:2015 accreditation.

 

 

This picture shows mild steel parts which have been laser cut using nitrogen gas. Once the necessary processes have been completed by our customer with these parts. Each 3mm thick component will be used on earth moving machinery within the yellow goods sector. As is the case with many of the various parts which we produce. We are able to provide traceability of both material origin and our processes.
Metal we cut in December

Metal we cut in December

– This image shows laser cut trial which we have carried out for our automotive customer on our 7040 split cabin five axis Trumpf Laser cutting machine. Each of these bonnets measures roughly 1500mm wide. As this trial requires the cutting of both the internal and external forms, we have both designed and manufactured a separate fixture which holds the bonnet in place in both positions. The apertures cut which have been illustrated within the pictorial allow for the flow of air to cool specific areas on the final vehicle. Also laser cut on these bonnets are the securing holes, and apertures for bonnet catches and race specific quick release pins.

 

 

This picture shows mild steel parts which have been laser cut using nitrogen gas. Once the necessary processes have been completed by our customer with these parts. Each 3mm thick component will be used on earth moving machinery within the yellow goods sector. As is the case with many of the various parts which we produce. We are able to provide traceability of both material origin and our processes.

 

 

This picture shows laser cut parts by compressed air , which after going through the trial and development of these parts, we are now proceeding with large production volumes. By utilising the specially made pallets from which our customer has provided, we are able to stack these to allow the loading of a pallet onto their machines which would automatically feed each part through the pressing process. Along with the larger component, these parts will be used within the automotive sector and used on new vehicles from a long established manufacturer.
Examples of Laser Cutting Projects In November

Examples of Laser Cutting Projects In November

This photo shows 2.5mm thick cr4 mild steel which has been laser cut on our machine with the largest bed size, 4000 x 2000mm, at our main site. By laser cutting these parts with nitrogen gas we are able to supply them without the need to remove the oxide layer, which would be created on the cut edge when using oxygen gas, before any painting/coating of these parts. As these parts, once coated, would later be used on specific vehicles for the mounting of carrying systems, be they roof racks or top boxes, they are prone to all the delights that mother nature is able to throw at them.

 

 

This image shows aluminium ‘braces’ which have been laser cut, using nitrogen gas on our TLC Cut 5 five axis machine with nitrogen gas. We process high volumes of these parts at regular intervals. These are free issued to us by our customer, as a first operation we laser cut the hole and trim the end as shown in the photograph. We then secure these in the same fixture but the other way round, to then repeat the same process at the other end with, instead of a round hole we add a slot.

 

 

This image shows the first form of what will later become a section of a sunroof mechanism. These parts have been laser cut by ourselves on one of our flatbed laser cutting machines and then handed over to our sister company Moseley Brothers who, by using one of their vast selection of presses, achieved the illustrated form. Each part is ready to be split into two sections on our five axis 7040 machine before being handed back over to Moseley Brothers for re-striking into their final form.

 

 

This image shows a batch of formed hollow section, which has been free issued to us by our customer. Each one of these sections is to be processed on our 7040 Trumpf five axis laser cutting machine to add all necessary holes/slots and end detail. Due to the high volume of these parts which we process on a regular basis, we utilise the production capability of the machine to ensure that any downtime is kept to an absolute minimum. Thus ensuring that we are able to provide fast turnarounds on the supply of these to the automotive sector.

 

 

Within this pictorial you will see another regular batch of free issue formed parts which have been processed on our TLC cut 5. Five axis laser cutting machine. This 12 year old machine has served us well in oxygen laser cutting the mounting holes and trimming the excess material from the pressing process. As these parts are to be supplied to the automotive sector, batches are large in volume and regular in frequency.

 

 

This image shows a batch of recently completed parts which we have processed for one of our largest customers. These 2mm thick mild steel parts have been laser cut on our L20 CO2 Trumpf machine using Nitrogen gas. The use of this gas results in there being no oxide layer on the cut edge as opposed to when cutting with oxygen. Each of the seven folds on each of these parts was done on our 100 tonne, HFEII Amada press brake. Our in house created program and bend sequence allows us to fold these parts completely, without needing to alter the tooling being used, or orientation part way through.

 

 

This pictorial illustrates another batch completed of what has become a regular order for our five axis 7040 Trumpf laser machine. Each of the free issue lengths of box section, which is supplied to us at the final length, is processed on our own in house designed and manufactured fixture. This ensures that each and every section of what will be used in drywall systems is positioned with exactly the same datum point every time. Once positioned and fixed in place, we laser cut, with nitrogen gas, 4 large slots as well as removing material from one side to in essence, create a length of channel for use in new builds and refurbishments.

 

 

This image shows a ‘nest’ of laser cut parts which were processed on our L50 fibre Trumpf laser machine. These mild steel parts, which were laser cut using nitrogen gas to allow increased adhesion of the final surface finish, will be removed from the machine bed to then proceed onto the next operation. Each part will be folded on one of our 3 Amada press brakes. Once these parts have received the appropriate surface finish they will be used within the automotive industry.
Examples of Laser Cutting Projects In October

Examples of Laser Cutting Projects In October

This image shows two different designs for decorative Christmas baubles. These 0.5mm thick pieces, which have been Laser cut using Nitrogen gas on our large format Fibre laser from Brass sheets directly from customer supplied cad files, will become an addition to a public displayed Christmas tree later this year. Jingle bells Jingle bells!!

Shown in this image is in fact a 2 gang electrical output cover. Each of these ‘covers’ is free issued to us by our customer as a formed piece with only the ‘fixing hole’ on either side included. Once the datum point has been identified on our fixture, which has been designed and manufactured in house to hold 10 parts at a time, we laser cut each aperture out to produce the finished stainless steel cover.
This image shows 6mm thick pickled and oiled mild steel parts which have been laser cut with oxygen gas on our 3030 CO2 3.2kw machine. As these parts are to be later painted to withstand the environmental elements which, as they are to be supplied for the yellow goods sector. The oxide layer is removed by the deburring process prior to any further operations. The result of removing the oxide layer is to increase the adhesion between the part itself and the paint layer, thus ensuring that these parts are fit for function in many years to come.
This photograph shows a laser cut part from 5mm thick mild steel. Due to the size of this piece, roughly measuring 2.4 metres long by 1.7 metres wide. We utilised our largest format machine; which, with a bed size of 4 metres x 2 metres, was easily able to facilitate the 4 metre long sheets which we sourced from our approved supplier especially for producing these parts.
This picture shows a section of what would later become a sunroof mechanism. By utilising our sister company, Moseley Brothers, we are able to supply these sections fully formed for our customer. Gf Laser begins with flatbed laser cutting the flat blanks of these components before passing them over to Moseley Brothers for pressing. Each part is then 5 axis laser cut by us and once again handed over to Moseley Brothers for re-striking to achieve the final form of the component.
This image illustrates a batch of 8mm thick S355 mild steel parts packed up and ready for despatching via our approved, nationwide delivery service. The parts which you can see here have been supplied to meet our customer requirements to ensure that each part is fit for purpose within the demanding automotive sector.
Examples of Laser Cutting Projects In September

Examples of Laser Cutting Projects In September

This image shows our customers free issue box section lengths banded and ready for collection. Each 1540mm long length is fixed directly onto the cutting table of our 7040 production 5 axis laser to have the 3 slots cut in. These sections are then used in the reinforcement of super energy efficient doors and windows in both domestic, and commercial environments.

This image shows our customers free issue box section lengths banded and ready for collection. Each 1540mm long length is fixed directly onto the cutting table of our 7040 production 5 axis laser to have the 3 slots cut in. These sections are then used in the reinforcement of super energy efficient doors and windows in both domestic, and commercial environments.

 

This image shows one of our five axis fixtures. These are all designed from our customer cad model, then laser cut on one of our flatbed machines, before being assembled and welded in house. This actual fixture has been designed to enable the cutting of 5 sections of tube within a single cutting cycle. Vastly decreasing production of large batches.

 

This image is of a new updated version of an existing blank. To increase formability and strength, the material used is a ‘boron steel.’ We have produced a relatively small batch of the initially for our customer to develop to ensure that the final part, which would be a major structural piece in vehicles globally, is fit for the intended function and exceeds all safety levels.

 

This image shows a large panel, measuring roughly 2metres in length by 1 metre in width. These are free issued to us in the final pressed form. On our 7040 split cabin 5 axis laser trim the excess material from the outside edge. We then proceed to include all fixing holes and slots, before finally removing the centre section to create an external panel for the public transport sector. To reduce overall waste we later cut the required stiffening ribs from the removed centre section. The fixture has been designed in such a manner that it is usable for each and every stage of the 5 axis laser cutting of these panels which also vary in overall size.

 

This pictorial illustrates the smooth ‘Tongue tested’ cut we are able to achieve direct from the laser cutting of 15mm S355 mild steel. These actual parts, which have been oxygen cut on our 3030 3.2kw CO2 laser machine will later become the base plate of a welded assembly within the yellow goods sector.

 

This image shows parts which have been nitrogen cut on one of our current three Trumpf flatbed laser cutting machines. Cut from pre galvanised material measuring 5 millimetres in thickness, each part is produced using our customer supplied CAD files. This ensure that, once on site, they simply bolt together accurately without modification. This enables the erection of industrial buildings in the quickest and most cost effective manner, whilst ensuring strength and safety is never compromised.
New Press Brake Equipment At GF Laser

New Press Brake Equipment At GF Laser

“We, here at GF Laser Ltd, are delighted to announce the arrival of our new Amada HFE 3i press brake. Our third Amada press brake machine features a press capacity of 220 tonnes, coupled with a bend length of 4 metres which means we are now able to offer an even greater level of service to all of our customers. The state of the art 19”, 3 dimensional touch screen controls enable our fully trained operators to process parts quickly with a consistently high level of accuracy and repeatability.”