“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.”
As with any laser cutting business continual investment is vital to keep the company growing and to remain competitive as laser cutting machines become faster and faster.
With this in mind GF Laser purchased their fifth laser cutting machine in May 2017 which is now up and running and ready for business. The new model joining the GF Laser family is the Trumpf 3030 Laser
Although GF Laser had only recently moved to larger premises they had outgrown them in the two years due to the growth in the laser cutting industry. The Directors decided to look for additional premises and when a suitable, 11,000 square feet site just a few hundred yards away became available, the company moved quickly to secure a lease.
New Fibre Laser
Given the success of the fibre laser working at GF Laser’s main site it was decided to purchase another fibre laser. The new generation of lasers were extremely fast at cutting thinner and medium gauge material and used around 40% less electricity than a traditional CO2 laser.
Whilst the site at Grazebrook was a great location with a large yard, cranage and excellent access for large vehicles there was still some work to do to prepare the site for laser cutting.
This included the following investments:
1 – Designing and constructing a new floor for the laser to ensure that it met the flatness and depth requirements.
2 – Installing CCTV and alarms to ensure the safety and security of staff.
3 – Installing a 30,000-litre nitrogen tank that could cope with the demands of laser cutting using fibre lasers.
4 – Compressed air system to serve the laser and for general use of the operatives.
5 – Suction sheet metal handling system to load material onto the laser without scratching material and to increase handling speeds.
6 – IT infrastructure so that laser programming can be undertaken at the main office including remote monitoring of the laser.
Setting up the additional site, whilst a significant investment, does allow GF Laser to serve a wider range of companies with the additional capacity and space for storage of stock and customer material. Furthermore, the proximity of the site to GF Laser’s main factory and the excellent I.T links means that managing the operation will fit within the company’s existing management and quality systems.
Finally, the site has extensive room for expansion that will hopefully serve GF Laser and their customers well over the coming years.
When GF Laser started in business, over 10 years ago, the laser cutting of aluminium was something that was quite specialist. Some subcontract laser cutting companies wouldn’t even cut the material because of the fact that it tended to burr and was generally problematic to run. Furthermore, the reflective properties of aluminium mean that there was a high risk of the laser beam reflecting back into the laser cutting machine causing serious damage.
With laser cutting machines costing hundreds of thousands of pounds little wonder that cutting aluminium with a laser wasn’t something that companies relished.
The reason that aluminium isn’t easy to laser cut is because it is a softer metal than say stainless steel. Its soft properties make it ideal for forming using a press brake or traditional press but those same properties make laser cutting aluminium a little harder.
Fortunately, GF Laser had bought a brand new laser in 2006 and with the support of Trumpf (Laser machine manufacturers) they achieved consistent results with aluminium minimising any burr so that the parts could be pressed without a deburring operation. During this time the team at GF Laser learnt some valuable lessons about cutting aluminium such as the grades that performed better, how constant attention to the cut whilst time consuming initially paid dividends in the quality of the finished product and reduced the time and cost of deburring.
Fast forward to today and with five lasers operating at GF Laser including two modern fiber versions then those early lessons in cutting aluminium have proved invaluable. Coupled with the massive improvements in laser cutting technology means that whilst laser cutting aluminium isn’t as easy as cutting stainless steel it’s certainly not as difficult as it was a decade ago.