August 2014: The Future of Laser Technology
- The Future of Laser Technology
- Proper Liner Installation is Vital to MIG Gun Performance
- Thinking Your Way Through ERP
- Waterjets Innovate to Increase Precision
- Bending the Strong Stuff
As a boy, I remember being fascinated when my father, a veteran editor of manufacturing trade journals, first told me that lasers could be used to cut things, including metal. My young mind instantly conjured up images of sci-fi laser guns and Star Wars lightsabers.
But as I held the optic lenses he had brought home, he explained that it wasn’t quite like those imagination-charged items. At that age, I registered only disappointment when I realized my science fiction dreams weren’t true.
Now, as an adult writing about manufacturing technology, I’ve gained an appreciation of real laser cutting technology. It might not be a fantastic weapon wielded by Jedis, but it’s amazing nonetheless, and has helped manufacturers to make great strides in productivity.
Choosing the right MIG gun consumables — and using and maintaining them properly — can make a big difference in gun performance and in weld quality. The liner is especially crucial to good gun performance, and proper liner installation is critical. Nothing else goes right if the liner doesn’t properly guide the wire through the welding cable and out to the contact tip.
Improper liner installation sounds like an incidental issue, but it can create a real mess that costs time and money. Even trimming the liner too short or leaving the liner too long can lead to numerous problems, such as birdnesting and wire feeding issues. These problems can result in costly rework and operator downtime for maintenance and repairs. And wasted wire due to birdnesting can drive up costs.
If it sounds like we’ve heard this story before, to a degree, we have. What we’re doing with ERP is trying to home in on those aspects that are told consistently by users and vendors. Until we use it ourselves, it’s all abstractions and it’s hard to get a sense of how it works in practice.
The latest in waterjet innovation can probably be summarized as increased precision and accuracy. These are not unexpected things, but they’re always good. How the builders are accomplishing it is more interesting... Companies like Jet Edge, OMAX and TECHNI have all released new waterjet products that, in one way or another, help the customer to achieve increased accuracy and precision in their cutting, from new laser sensors to waterjets designed for better stability; they’re rock-steady machines.
Sometimes when we think we have a simple, straightforward story to tell, we lift up the lid and find that it is complex, subtle, and multi-faceted. We know that working with advanced high-strength steels (AHHS) can present surprises. But bending it with a press brake turns out to have more niches and angles than we bargained for.