8 June 2015

Prototyping shop orders Trumpf five-axis laser

Midlands-based Birmingham Prototypes Ltd (BPL) has ordered a TRUMPF TruLaser Cell 7040, a five-axis machine that is the first of its type in this market to feature TRUMPF’s fibre-guided TruDisk laser technology. It will be used by the company for trimming complex fabricated items for example in the aviation and automotive industry.

BPL was founded by Michael Adams in 2003 and has already grown to employ 15 people. Although the company considers itself a true prototyping shop, the scale of its work varies from 1-off bespoke parts to large projects containing multiple components, through to scheduled low volume production parts. Predominantly serving the UK aerospace and automotive industries, the BPL portfolio includes CADCAM, 5-axis machining, tool-making, press work, welding, 3D printing and inspection (including 3D laser scanning) services.

The company has always offered five-axis laser trimming of fabricated components. However, with various issues in maintaining quality whilst outsourcing work, Birmingham Prototypes has now invested in its own TRUMPF TruLaser Cell 7040.

“Some of our work calls for five-axis capabilities and we wanted to exert more control over this process by acquiring our own laser cutting machine,” explains Mr Adams. “Our team, including myself, have experience in five-axis laser cutting. With a combination of quality issues with outsourcing and the time we were losing waiting for parts, the investment was necessary. We now have full internal management control of our customers’ requirements and that is key for us in delivering to them within tight delivery schedules.”

“We did look at one other potential machine, but I couldn’t find fault with the TruLaser Cell 7040,” he says. “TRUMPF invited us to their headquarters in Germany to see the machine perform demonstrations and I was very impressed with the professionalism of the company, which gave me the confidence to invest. Furthermore, TRUMPF’s reputation in the market is second-to-none.”

Currently being commissioned, in the first instance the machine is being earmarked to produce one of BPL’s own products.

“We have a client that specialises in aircraft interiors and we produce components that are eventually supplied to a multi-national manufacturer of small aeroplanes,” explains Mr Adams. “The parts are made from 1.2mm aluminium and are quite complex, featuring extensive curvature and cut-outs. In total there are six different parts that will require five-axis laser trimming on the TruLaser Cell 7040, typically in batches of 100. These parts alone will not fill the capacity of the machine by any means, and we will be looking to source work from our existing customers as well as gaining new ones; establishing ourselves as a first choice supplier for sheet metal work products.”

TRUMPF's comprehensive training facilities and extensive application know-how together with local support in UK was another important factor in the eventual selection process. TRUMPF has provided TruTops programming training to two BPL employees at its UK headquarters in Luton, and operator training on-site.

“In the UK there aren’t that many pure prototyping shops, especially not many who can manage all processes in-house” says Mr Adams. “This investment will help drive our company forward as one of the top engineering companies who customers can rely on to outsource full projects, with the confidence that we can manage every process. We work with our customers to provide engineering solutions in prototyping and assist in taking sheet metal products through production phases. Our overriding focus is always delivering unrivalled quality in the shortest lead-times. We are always working to improve the company’s performance and ensure that BPL is at the forefront of the industry, by readily investing in the latest machinery and technology.”

BPL is ISO9001 accredited and is currently working towards OHSAS 18001 and ISO14001.

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