Visitors to BLM Group UK Ltd’s Intube event at the company’s Ampthill Business Park, Bedfordshire premises came face-to-face with the future of laser tube processing. Prior to the in-house event the new BLM Adige LT 722D Lasertube was described as ‘the most significant advance in the machining of tube…ever’, and the reality of this eighth-generation tube laser system did not disappoint.
Off-line programming software specifically developed for the machining of tubes creates new programs quickly and easily, while the Siemens Sinumerik 840D CNC allows the operator to manage all the main functions, including program downloads. The LT 722D can process round, square, rectangular and flat-sided oval section tube up to 152 mm diameter in lengths up to 6.5 m or 8.5 m, with fully automated bar handling throughout the entire sequence of load, measure, feed, cut and unload. Fast set-up and change-over times means short batches can be managed as cost-effectively as longer production runs.
Up to 80 per cent more productive than its predecessors – and the more complex the part the greater the productivity increase – the LT 722D incorporates a number of hardware improvements that contribute to faster processing of tube. However, the biggest change is to the software that has been configured to make optimum use of the new machine’s processing capabilities. The proprietary Artube CADCAM software is dedicated totally to the tube fabrication process, ensuring that the transition from design to finished component typically takes less than five minutes. This includes components with open profiles and special tube shapes.
Change-overs, which are performed automatically, can be completed in less than two minutes, and once the cutting program has been selected by the operator the system manages the set-up operations according to the size and type of material. To reduce reliance on individual know-how, a database of ‘ready to use’ cutting parameters is provided as standard, taking account of different tube sizes, shapes, thickness and material to minimise waste and set-up times.
Raw tube is measured automatically prior to processing and supported during the entire cutting sequence by numerically-controlled universal supports located upstream and downstream of the 2500 W Rofin CO2 laser cutting head. This guarantees optimum part accuracy and consistency, while the diffusion-cooled laser combines high cut quality with low running costs. Optional features contributing to greater productivity include an anti-spatter device for use with stainless steel tube. This prevents damage to the inner surface of the tube, a critical factor in applications where hygiene is an absolute priority.