It is all very well investing in a blisteringly fast 10 kW fibre laser cutting machine, which following its introduction by Swiss firm Bystronic is currently the highest power available in the sheet metalworking industry, but how can users feed it with material fast enough? If they cannot, customers might just as well have bought a lower cost machine with 6 kW of power or less.
Answering this question was the main theme presented to 120 visitors at a three-day open house held by Bystronic UK at its Coventry headquarters and showroom towards the end of September 2018. To give an indication of the importance of material replenishment, a 10 kW BySprint or ByStar fibre laser machine can position its head at 140 m/min and cut 1 mm mild steel at 60 m/min. Depending on the complexity of the nest of components, the cycle can be completed in a few minutes and the smaller the sheet dimensions, the quicker the cycle is finished.
As visitors learned from sales manager Andrew Richert, the main presenter, this is where the associated ByTrans material storage and handling systems come into play. They are designed to integrate with Bystronic laser cutting centres, delivering sheet to the machine's shuttle table reliably and quickly and removing a processed sheet in the same cycle. It is sent either to a table for removing parts from the skeleton immediately, or into temporary ByTrans storage, or to a ByTower system for future use.
Established handling solutions range from a simple, manually-operated ByLoader through ByTrans and its Extended variant for loading and unloading sheet to the latest ByTrans Cross. The latter's modular design offers users full automation for producing long runs of components while retaining the flexibility of manual handling for fulfilling smaller jobs. It can be integrated between a laser cutting centre and a warehouse, but is equally suitable as a stand-alone solution.
With the addition of an optional BySort bridge and two sorting heads with gripper modules, unloading and stacking of components from the skeleton can be achieved automatically and quickly by robot. As the system allows a high degree of repeatability when placing the parts, the consequently reliable position detection assists with automation of subsequent processes as well.
Another hot topic at the open house was how to extract maximum productivity from the company's press brakes once the fast fibre laser cutting machines have produced copious quantities of blanks. One facet of the presentation was the high productivity and fail-safe procedures for operating top-end machines like the Xpert 150. It utilises optical systems and software within the BySoft suite that make it practically impossible to load the wrong tooling or position the segments incorrectly along the top beam.
Attention was also focused on the Xpert 80, an 80 tonne / 1.5 metre press brake that has been introduced alongside a 40-tonne, one-metre model to form a range that can be conveniently relocated within a factory by fork lift truck. Both machines boost productivity by avoiding having to use a large, slower press brake to bend small components. Output can be increased further by relocating the machines next to a laser cutting cell, another press brake or a different machine tool.
The latest, larger press brake can bend material up to 20 mm thick and is suitable for almost any task, from large volume runs to small batch, job shop production of complex parts. The machine may be equipped with multiple tools to enable all bends to be completed sequentially. ByMotion drive control, a Bystronic development, ensures that the Xpert 80’s upper beam and backgauges are accelerated with high precision, while fast bending speeds up to 25 mm/sec are attained.