3 April 2013

TRUMPF help carrs head-up uk laser welding market

Kettering-based Carrs Welding Technologies Ltd is making use of recently acquired technology from TRUMPF to help maintain its position at the forefront of the UK laser welding sector. The most recent investment, a TRUMPF TruDisk 4002 solid state laser welding system allows the company to weld material above 5mm thick, as well as aluminium workpieces. What’s more, a newly acquired TRUMPF TruMark Station 5000 is meeting the growing requirement for full manufacturing traceability.

Carrs started in business repairing and refurbishing moulds in 1992; but by the late 90s the family-owned company was one of the first in the UK to start investing heavily in laser welding equipment. Today, most in this industry segment consider Carrs to be at the very cutting edge of laser welding technology.

“The world's foremost laser welding system makers, including TRUMPF, are our chosen equipment suppliers and we have nine systems installed for welding all nature of jobs, small, medium and large,” says Managing Director, Phil Carr. “Most of our production work is carried out on our four TRUMPF solid-state laser systems – the first was installed in 2003 – with prototype and repair work assigned to other equipment.”

The most recently acquired TRUMPF system, a TruDisk 4002, is described by Mr Carr as the company’s “jewel in the crown” and has allowed the company to provide new services, such as welding aluminium components, as well as the supply of laser-welded parts above 5mm thick.

“It’s an amazing piece of kit and we seem to be learning about new features with every passing day,” says Mr Carr, before indicating that he is far from done in the investment stakes. “Our next move will likely be a 6kW system, which will take us to yet another level of capability.”

Laser welding offers many advantages to the company’s customers. For instance, the heat input is a fraction of that produced using conventional welding techniques. The huge energy density of laser is the essential reason why the process is so precise and neat; a 2mm penetration weld performed with a laser will typically result in a 60% narrower weld and an 80% smaller molten weld pool compared with TIG welding.

Through its continuous programme of investment, Carrs is a company keen to protect its position among the UK market leaders. Here, a recent strategy has seen it attack the very high quality end of the laser welding segment, where issues such as full and compliant traceability are a prerequisite.

“Laser marking with serial numbers tracks the manufacturing history of a part, showing who welded it, on what machine, and when,” says Mr Carr. “For this requirement, again we selected TRUMPF in the form of the TruMark Station 5000. This is proving a great accompaniment to our TRUMPF laser welding systems. The installation of the TruMark Station 5000 immediately helped secure a new contract from a major earthmoving vehicle manufacturer. In fact, there are potentially a further 20 production jobs that could emanate from similar customers; so we are hopeful of securing more.”

It seems there is no limit to the success being achieved by Carrs, an ISO9001 accredited business that is aiming to achieve AS910 status this year, and possibly acquiring Nadcap – the Worldwide co-operative programme designed to provide continual improvement within the aerospace and automotive sectors - in subsequent years. As these two industries command 50% of turnover at Carrs, it is a perfect fit. Other sectors served by the business include motorsport (20-30%), medical, energy, firearms and leisure. Using TRUMPF technology, Carrs can perform laser welds on titanium, stainless steels, high carbon steels, copper, aluminium and high grade nickel alloys.

“To be honest there isn’t much you can teach us about laser welding but there are always new engineering materials coming to market,” concludes Mr Carr. “For this reason we need to remain completely adaptable and continue to invest in the very best laser welding technologies.”

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