Hythe-based HV Wooding, a subcontract supplier of metal components to customer design, has brought laser cutting in-house with its acquisition of a 4kW TruLaser 3030 fiber laser from TRUMPF. The machine will not only save the company £100,000 a year in previous outsourcing costs, but will help fuel HV Wooding’s growth plans moving forward, as well as increasing their well-established services, with the ability to offer multiple operations under one roof.
Established in 1967, HV Wooding is a family-owned business that specialises in metal-fabrication in a wide variety of industry sectors including electrical accessories, renewable energy, rail, motor vehicle & aerospace, medical, energy generation and research. Everything is made to customer designs, although the company is able to provide design-for-manufacture advice to help clients reduce costs. Today, the company employs 98 people and generates an annual turnover of around £12 million.
“Over recent years we found ourselves subcontracting a lot of profiling work, and had our eye on a machine for some time,” explains the company’s Technical Director, John Wooding. “However, due to the conductivity requirements of the parts, we cut a lot of copper, which meant we were originally thinking about waterjet cutting as using a conventional CO2 laser to cut copper is not viable. But then solid-state laser technology arrived. At first we decided to bide our time to test the robustness of the technology in the marketplace, but once we heard of others using solid-state laser-based laser cutters without problems, we began researching the ideal machine for our needs.”
HV Wooding’s comprehensive range of services encompasses everything from design assistance and prototyping through to hard tooling and large volume production – all located under one roof, providing significant cost savings and administrative benefits for customers. The company’s operation is approved to ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001, with full traceability guaranteed throughout the production process.
“We knew that the introduction of a laser cutter would sit between our low volume wire EDM processes and high volume press operations, “It would also help us provide customers with samples and prototypes extremely quickly.” explains John Wooding.
HV Wooding looked at all the principal suppliers of laser cutting machines but, based on quality of cut and product definition, opted for a 4kW TRUMPF TruLaser 3030 fiber laser.
“High definition of product is crucial for our customers, along with high accuracy to the DXF file,” says John Wooding. “The TRUMPF machine was duly installed in April 2016, and the commissioning and training went so well that we were cutting parts on the first day. It’s our biggest investment in a single piece of equipment and we view it as vital to the future of the business.”
Among the tasks for the TruLaser 3030 fiber is the production of busbars, a big growth area for HV Wooding. Today the company produces a huge variety of bespoke busbars for major projects incorporating thousands of variants to single part demand. HV Wooding manufactures copper busbars, aluminium busbars and Cuponal busbars for switchgear components, control panels, panel boards, fuse-gear and transformers, primarily for multinationals and smaller contractors operating within the switchgear, railway, marine and power electronics sectors.
HV Wooding are also using the laser to profile motor laminations for a wide spectrum of industry sectors. Typically laminations are manufactured from electrical steel with the specific grade being dependent on the performance of the engine. Laminations can be anything upwards of 0.1mm thick, however the most frequently used thickness is 0.35 all within the machines capabilities.
“Already we are witnessing tremendous accuracy,” says John Wooding. “The concentricity between the inner and outer diameters on our motor laminations, for example, is little short of phenomenal.”
The TRUMPF laser cutter at HV Wooding adds to the company’s already impressive list of in-house services, providing flexibility and value-added opportunities to customers under one roof.
“We were probably subbing out around £100,000 worth of laser profiling work per annum previously – and that’s with us supplying free-issue material – so we will recoup that immediately,” says John Wooding. “In addition, there are all the hidden costs, such as transport to and from our suppliers, which we will also save. Ultimately, however, the biggest benefit is that we can now take on projects that demand the application of many different technologies, including laser cutting, which provides us with genuine market differentiation over conventional laser job shops.”