7 August 2009

Rofin Lasers Power Winbro Success in Eastern Europe

Having recently received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in international trade, Winbro Group Technologies continue to reach out into new markets, aided by the power of Rofin Lasers.

The coveted award, received by Winbro in April of this year, was in recognition of the company’s outstanding achievements in export growth of over 70% of their leading edge technology systems to more than 15 countries, including China, US, Japan and Russia. Winbro’s continued success stems from over 50 years of experience in applying and combining different non-conventional machining technologies including Laser, High Speed EDM (Electro-Discharge Machining) and ECM (Electro-Chemical Machining). This is backed by an ongoing desire to embrace and develop new technologies and processes which will further enhance the flexibility, productivity and reliability of their turnkey manufacturing systems.

Cutting Speeds Take Off Using CO2 Lasers
The latest in the long line of systems to be exported by Winbro has recently been delivered to a major Eastern European combustor manufacturer. An existing customer of Winbro, the company produces and repairs complex fabricated turbine components for aircraft engines and already uses Nd:YAG laser systems for drilling and cutting applications. The requirement to further increase capacity and output has led to the purchase of this latest system. Based upon the quality, reliability and performance of the three existing systems, the customer has once again selected Winbro as the solution provider.

This fourth system however, breaks new ground, as this will be the first time that a CO2 laser system has been used by the company for cutting operations. The combined experience and expertise of Winbro and laser manufacturer Rofin, together with a philosophy of continuous improvement, has led to the development of this latest system which is capable of up to ten fold increases in the cutting speeds previously attained using alternative Nd YAG laser technology.

At the heart of the Winbro “Delta” laser machining system is a Rofin DC 020 CO2 slab laser. Renowned for their high uptime, low maintenance and excellent beam quality (K> 0.9) Rofin diffusion cooled slab lasers have become the workhorse of the industrial laser world. The combined attributes of 2,000W of output power, excellent beam quality and the enhanced cut edge quality obtained from the CO2 laser has enabled average cutting speeds to be increased from 250 mm/min to 1,700 mm/min, with speeds of greater than 2,500 mm/min deemed achievable by Winbro.

The “Delta” system is built upon a substantial monocoque chassis which acts as the mounting platform for the positioning axes and the laser. This robust construction also provides the stability required for the precision cutting operations which will be performed within the machine. The Rofin DC 020 laser is mounted above the system and outside of the cutting environment, with the laser beam delivered to the cutting head via a series of mirrors. Components up to 1,900 mm in diameter x 900 mm high and weighing up to 500kg can be processed within the machine and its five axis configuration allows complex profiles and contours to be machined. Stable and repeatable positioning is guaranteed by the use of ball-screw driven linear slides and harmonic drives for the rotary axes. This, combined with absolute position encoders, linear scales and the Heidenhain iTNC 530 control system, allows accuracies of 0.015mm and repeatability of 0.010mm or better to be achieved across the working envelope.

Rapid Changeover Maintains Productivity
As a high variety – low volume manufacturer, with some 900 different component part permutations, rapid changeover from part to part is a key element in maintaining high productivity. The “Delta” system incorporates a number of advanced features to minimize the amount of time spent getting new parts into production. The system is comprehensive and flexible and uses a brand new programmer interface, the (LFE) “Laser Front End” system, which provides a range of geometric input methods, directly from the user’s CAD output. The system also uses an innovative and patented probing system to determine fixture and component position and alignment, and generate any offset data required for the part programme. Once running, capacitive focus control is used to maintain the optimum gap between the nozzle and the work-piece.

This new system combines the innovative design and machine building skills of Winbro with Rofin’s extensive laser applications knowledge to produce a high quality and high speed laser machining system. The customer will also benefit from the support available through Winbro’s locally based partner and the world-wide Rofin service and support network, ensuring high uptimes and rapid response at all times.

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