Broxton Industries, a Cirencester-based market leading provider of subcontract manufacturing services, is reaping the benefits of a recently installed TRUMPF TruMark laser marking system. The company, a long-time advocate of TRUMPF technology, initially acquired the TruMark Station 5000 with TruMark 5020 laser to fulfil an order for marking 2m long anodised aluminium extrusions. However, in the eight months since installation, Broxton is successfully filling the machine’s capacity with a raft of newly acquired work.
Formed in 1973, Broxton has grown to be one of the UK’s most successful subcontractors by offering value-added services and world class production capacity. The 60-employee company has two divisions, CNC machining and sheet metalwork, which serve many sectors including, audio, lighting and electronics, aerospace and military.
Broxton’s goal is simple: to help its customers compete successfully in their markets and support their needs with technical expertise and professionalism. With this in mind, when the company was at a customer meeting in December 2015 discussing the potential to laser mark and brand extruded products, the company’s Managing Director Marcus Ellams had an idea.
“Immediately I began to think that if we invested in the right marking technology we would not only complement existing processes, but it would also enable us to add more value and most of all, provide a solution to an important customer,’ he says.
With an array of successfully deployed TRUMPF machines already in use at Broxton, including three punching machines, a laser cutter and four press brakes, it was logical to approach TRUMPF regarding its new laser marking requirement.
“Our client had been considering various other laser marking suppliers, but as a satisfied TRUMPF user, this was our natural choice,” says Mr Ellams. “Furthermore, the TruMark system offered everything we required in terms of its software, power and range of applications.”
There was only one hurdle to overcome, the length of the extrusions in question were 2m, far too long for most laser marking systems to accommodate.
“Unlike other systems, the TRUMPF TruMark Station 5000 had removable panels on both sides, which gave us an idea,” says Mr Ellams. “We could develop a bespoke side extension to provide an ergonomic and productive access point for loading long material. With the help of TRUMPF engineers, we integrated it with the safety circuit, which is vital when working with a Class 1 laser. We now have hinged access for our long extrusions with a safety interlock, which works really well. This unique adaption has increased the flexibility of our machine to accommodate a wider variety of parts.”
The 2m long anodised aluminium extrusions are processed in batches of 1500 at Broxton. Each extrusion, which is destined for the furniture industry, requires three marks at one end; two logos and an instruction.
“The TRUMPF marking software is great as it allows the use of sequenced marking programs,” says Mr Ellams. “As a result, we can also perform automatic serialisation for aerospace and military work, where traceability is of paramount importance.”
Since installation, Broxton has been successful at filling capacity on its new TruMark system with a plethora of different jobs, including laser engraving stainless steel fascia plates for a customer in the fire safety sector.
“Beyond metallic jobs, we’ve also marked plastic and even painted finishes,” says Mr Ellams. “In fact, we’ve not found a job that it can’t do. Before investing in this technology we would have missed out on these opportunities, or had to engage with a subcontract supplier. As a result, I am expecting quite a short payback period.”
The power of the TruMark 5020 laser and its high pulse frequencies enable fast processing speeds and short marking process cycles. Thanks to MOFPA (Master Oscillator Fiber Power Amplifier) technology, the pulse durations of the TruMark 5020 can be adjusted to meet the exact application requirements. Thus, even temperature-sensitive parts can be marked with ease.
“The TruMark system delivers high quality, cost-effective branding and marking, and complements our screen printing capabilities,” concludes Mr Ellams. “We get a good choice of repeatable finishes, while the power and speed are both first class. In addition, the support from TRUMPF has been excellent. We had to complete a sample approval process with our extrusion customer and TRUMPF proved to be a big help. Their post-installation support has also been very good when we’ve needed assistance on specific jobs. This is important because we have very discerning customers with high expectations. However, with our attention to detail and investment in the latest technologies, we are able to meet their demands day-in, day-out.”