GF Laser and Aberdeen Art have worked together on a number of laser cut pieces throughout GFL’s 10 years of business. Because of the outstanding designs Aberdeen Art have produced for the company in the past, we thought it would be appropriate to ask Aberdeen Art to design a special piece that we displayed at the Made In The Midlands Exhibition.
Programming: The team at GF Laser begin the project by assessing and evaluating the CAD that is sent to them by Aberdeen Art. This is usually converted from a DXF format which it’s supplied in, to a format that can be read by the laser cutting software TOPS.
Once converted into TOPS the file will then be prepared for laser cutting. This involves selecting items that will be cut or engraved and the order in which the laser must cut the piece. Where GF laser are cutting numerous parts on one sheet then the laser programmer would also ascertain what would be the best route for the laser to move from piece to piece in order to cut as efficiently as possible. In addition, TOPS will also work out how to best arrange or nest multiple parts to make the best use of material.
Finally, the programmer will select a number of options before exporting the file onto the network in a format that can be read by the physical laser machine. These Include
. Type of material, in this case mild steel
. Thickness of material, in this case 3mm
. Laser assist gas. This will usually be oxygen or nitrogen but we can also use compressed air or argon.
. Whether to use automatic or manual sheet changing techniques
Laser Cutting: The Programmer will have decided which one of the five lasers used by GF laser will be used for the job. They will also print out a setup sheet with information from all the above, pictorials of the part to cut and key dimensions for checking purposes. The operator will select the programme from the network and import onto the hard drive of the laser. The operator will take some test cuts stopping the laser ensuring that the cut is burr free. The laser operator will continue to check the job as slight differences in the material can make a difference to cut quality. The operator will undertake a number of dimensional checks to make sure the parts meet the necessary specifications. For more complex parts the laser will involve one of our quality engineers who can also check the parts using Vernier checks or more in depth checks using a CMM or Faro ScanArm system.
Folding: The Folding operation is carried out on one of our Amada press brakes, GF Laser have the capability to fold parts up to 3000mm in length. The press brake operator will utilise the setup sheet to see the details of the folding job. The operator will also examine the relevant drawings paying special attention to tolerances and key features. We also have an extensive range of standard tooling that can be used to fold metal; any tooling for non-standard folding can be manufactured by our in house toolmakers or bought off the shelf from our pressbrake suppliers Amada.